The Light of Christmas
Light is one of the most important themes of Christmas. This is because Christ, as the True Light come into this world, helps us to see—He helps us to see ourselves, the world, each other, in the proper light—in Himself. What is more, He helps us to see and know God, to love Him. Because of this, we see everything in a new way: the world is no longer a dark, scary place, but rather that place God has created for us—the place where He shines His light upon us. We begin then to see everything in His light, and everything we do begins to be directed to Him. We start to live for Him.
Light has a warming effect, and so does Christ. By this I don’t mean that we have warm, fuzzy feelings about Christ, but rather that Christ makes us realize that our true home—the place where we are truly welcomed—is with Him. Ultimately, we will not feel at home anywhere but with Him, because we are His! We don’t belong to ourselves but to Him, because He made us, loves us, and wants us with Him. Think of the words of St. Augustine: “You have made us for Yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
Most importantly, Christ the Light scatters the darkness of our lives, of this world, of our sin. Just look at this Nativity Scene. Now imagine the original one, in Bethlehem. Scripture tells us that this all took place at night. What surrounds the stable then? Darkness! But what is inside the stable? Christ! The Light of the World! The Rising Sun Who never sets! Here God is once again saying “Let there be light!” for here He is beginning a new creation—one in which Christ comes to save man from the darkness of sin and death, so that he can live in the “light of life.” In this new light, then, we receive new life, and we can no longer go on living like we did before.
Christmas, then, has to change us. The light of Christ on this holy day must change us. We cannot go away from Christmas the same way we came to it. Right here, right now, in the light of the glorious Christ Child, we have to make a choice about whether we are going to live for Christ, the true meaning of Christmas, or not. We have to choose if we will live for Him as He wants and as the Church teaches us. But this isn’t just about following the rules. No, it is so much more than that! It is so that He can give us light, life, and love! It is so we can be happy! Because the darkness of our sin weighs us down and makes us slaves and unhappy. The light of Christ, however, frees us and makes us as happy as a little kid on his birthday!
And so, my dear friends, we are about to meet Christ at Christmas. There He offers us His light and life, and asks us to give Him ourselves in return. Resolve to give yourselves to Him! Let your New Year’s resolution start early, even right now! Make that resolution to live for Christ—His Light will always be there to guide you and it will never lead you astray. Live for Him by letting go of past faults, hurts, and failings by bringing them to the Christ Child, by bringing them to Him in the sacrament of penance, where He will heal you and give you life. Live for Him! And don’t let this be a one-time thing—something only to do at Christmas—but do this every day! Live for Him and so let this yearly celebration of Christmas reign in your hearts, so that Christ may live there, not just tonight or once a year, but every day and always. With St. Paul then I say “Awake, O sleeper, and rise, and Christ shall give you light!” (Eph. 5:14)
Merry Christmas to all! May God bless you in this holy season, and let us all pray for one another.
Bishop Wall, Father Keller, and Father Brown.