First Reading: Isa 52:7-10; Psalm: 98. R. v. 3cd; Second Reading: Heb 1:1-6; Gospel: Jn 1:1-18
THE LIGHT WE NEED THIS CHRISTMAS
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn 1:4-5)
I stumbled on a video some days ago that gave me a different picture of what I used to know a Christmas crib looks like. Unlike the familiar ambience of a Christmas crib that elicits some feeling of security, at least with a roof over the crib of the child Christ; this very peculiar crib created a strange ambience of insecurity. The crib where the child Christ was laid was surrounded by rubble as though the house where Christ was born collapsed. The video carried the news that Christmas celebration in Bethlehem this year will be mainly prayers with no festive celebrations as way of identifying with the war-torn people of Gaza. The strange look of the crib of the child Christ surrounded by rubble illustrates their present condition.
As I cogitate on this experience, I became more conscious that Christmas meets us in different circumstances. That while we have a joyful Christmas, others could be starving of the same joy. That while we set up Christmas trees in our houses and eat good meals with families and friends; some people somewhere may not find even a tree for shelter, not to speak of a meal to eat or share. How then should we celebrate Christmas amidst these opposing experiences? What should Christmas mean to us irrespective of our individual conditions? What is the message of Christmas?
Our gospel reading this morning tells us that Christ the Word was with God in the beginning. And that “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn 1:4-5). In Matthew’s account of the birth of Christ; when the wise came to Herod, they announced that they came to worship the new born king and that they saw his star in the East (Mt 2:1-2). The sign of that special star in the dark clouds of the night reveals Christ the Light amidst our dark world. Christmas is when Christ, the true Light entered our dark world. But like our gospel reading said; ‘This Light shines out so brightly that the darkness has not overcome it.”
When Christ entered the human history by the mystery of the Incarnation; divine life took flesh. John’s gospel tells us that this ‘divine life was the light of men.’ Meaning that when Christ took flesh, he brought light into our life and our world. The Light that dispels the darkness of evil. Divinity entered humanity to divinise humanity. The Son of God became the son of man that the sons of men might become the sons of God. So the light that Christ brought to our life when divine life took flesh was making us partakers in his divine Light. This Light shines in the darkness of our world. And the mission of this Light is to glow and glow until darkness is completely dispelled.
The message of Christmas therefore is that Christ the Light entered our world to dispel the darkness of sin. It is that Christ made us partakers of his divine Light when he took flesh. It is that this Light is still on a mission to dispel completely the darkness of evil. It is that we have a role to play to make this Light glow and glow until evil is completely defeated. So Christmas is not the absence of tragedy, poverty, suffering and disappointment. It is the presence of hope amidst the darkness of evil in the world. It is the dominance of the unbeatable Light of Christ. And it is a reminder that we have been adopted to participate on the mission of ensuring that the Light of Christ glows always until the darkness of evil is finally defeated.
When Christ the Light entered our world; his mission was to defeat completely the darkness of evil. But like our gospel reading announced; “The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, . . . yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” (Jn 1:9-12). Christ the Light needs our cooperation to defeat completely the darkness of evil. And to every believer who received him, we have been empowered to make his Light glow and glow until our world is purge of evil.
Therefore, the message of Christmas is that if we allowed the Light of Christ in us shine, evil will be defeated. If we allowed love lead, there will be no rubble around the Christmas crib. If we are more generous, poverty and hunger will gradually disappear. If we forgave one another, peace and unity would reign. And if we were selfless, more sacrifices will be made. The Light of Christ still shines through us, and the darkness has not overcome it. The war, poverty, unemployment, hardship, suffering, and most sicknesses in our world today are all man-made. But a little light from us can dispel all these evils. This is what Christmas is all about. To let the Light of Christ shine. To let love lead, so that God’s kingdom may reign on earth.
So, in case we are still in search of a Christmas present to offer; there is no other better present than to beam the Light of Christ wherever we are. The true meaning of Christmas is realised when those around us begin to feel that something about their life and well being is beginning to get better. So while we rejoice this Christmas, we can try to identify with those who are not in a very good state to rejoice in this season. Those saddened by death, displaced by war, weakened by illness, broken by disappointment, starved by poverty, confined by imprisonment, and even those who feel isolated by our silent treatment and unforgiveness. In this way, we become light in their dark circumstances. This is the Light we should bring into the lives of others this Christmas.
‘Indeed, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him/her who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says, ‘Our God reigns” (Is 52:7).
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Christ, true Light of the world, dispel the darkness of evil in us and empower us to become bearers of your light; that our world may be rid of evil. Amen.