“Are there not twelve hours in day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of the world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” I recall that the first time I read this passage as a teenager I had thought this was a strange passage. Being almost 59, I still find this a strange passage. For one thing, there are more than twelve literal daylight hours.
Now, Jesus said this in response to his disciples saying, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back [to Judea]?” What a strange thing to answer that question by saying, “Are there not twelve hours in a day?” Are not people also trapping and killing others during daylight hours?
Because this is written by the apostle, John, whose gospel is more spiritual, I decided to attempt to “dig deeper.” It might be that our Lord was directing His response more to what follows than as a response to His disciples’ question. Look carefully at His words. First He talks about a person not stumbling because he sees “the light of the world;” then He says one stumbles at night because “the light is not in him.” These cannot be referring to natural light and absence of natural light. Hence, it very well may be that our Lord was ignoring His disciple’s question and was using it as a teaching moment.
When things are going good and there are no hardships, periods of consolation, we think our faith is strong, that God is good; everything is “super.” However, when difficult hardships strike, everything falls apart. We become bi-polar. Death or terminal illnesses, especially, can create a huge chasm, causing some to even fall away from the faith.
If one walks in accord with “the light of this world,” the wisdom of this world, he will not “stumble” because they are in agreement; but this is a false “light.” The true Light has become night to them; they cannot see. When the light of this world is gone, nothing but night exists; one cannot see and therefore will stumble and have a great fall. “Are there not twelve hours in a day?” “Day” can refer to Jesus Christ; “twelve hours,” to the twelve apostles, which refers to the Catholic Church. If we walk in Christ, in His Word, adhering to the teaching of the Catholic Church, we will not stumble because the Light is in us. Because this Light is also the Resurrection, even if our bodies die, we will continue to live.