We appreciate the light more when we find ourselves in a dark place. The modern life is so used to light and current that when these go off, life becomes unbearable. One imagines what it means for a major world city today to be without light for twenty-four hours. The disaster can only be imagined. The coming of Christ is actually like the coming of light into a world filled with darkness. Christmas is the celebration of the triumph of light over darkness. It is the definitive entry of divine light into our darkened world with the aim of letting us all remain children of light.
This is the reason for the special joy at Christmas. All liturgical celebrations of Christmas stress this light from diverse perspectives. This is seen clearly in the readings of this day. Two aspects of the readings that cannot fail to attract the imagination of the reader are the idea that God’s glory shines out and that this radiant glory brings peace and salvation to all the earth.
The Light of God’s Glory
The presence of God is brightness itself. It is more brilliant than the rays of the sun. Wherever this presence is felt, everything changes for better. Human life gets transformed as human hearts get more united and all forms of evil are banished. As the Gospel of John says in the opening verses of its prologue, God is present among us as word made flesh and this word is both light and life to all human beings, and it is through accepting him that all derive power to become God’s children (John 1:4-5,12-14).
The sum of it all is that Jesus is the light of God’s glory shining in the world. All who live according to his teaching find new life, but all those who reject him remain in darkness. Unfortunately, the ranks of all who reject him and his teaching are on the increase in the contemporary society. That explains the prevalence of all forms of evil and darkness.
Peace and Salvation through the Light of God’s Presence
The Letter to the Hebrews sees Christ as the refulgence of God’s glory and the very imprint of His being. In other words, the presence of Christ is the glory of God shining on all creation. This radiance brings along with it all forms of wellbeing, which the Hebrew language summarizes as shalom (peace). This is why the Angelic voices ring out on the morning of the birth of Jesus: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those whom he favors” (Luke 2:14).
The greatest gift of Christmas is peace, and peace is what one gets when all other needs are satisfied. So, the presence of God is actually the satisfaction of all human needs. It is the realization of the words of Psalm 23:1: “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall lack.” The real joy of Christmas comes from this inner conviction that God is in our midst to satisfy all our longings. He is in our hearts, in our family, and in our troubled society. He has come with his glorious light to illumine the darkened alleys of our lives and to bring deliverance and peace.
This is what the prophet Isaiah sees and, in a rather ecstatic tone, invites all the ruined places and broken entities of Jerusalem to cry out with joy: “For the Lord comforts his people, he redeems Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God” (Isa 52:9-10). There is no doubt that we live in troubled and complex times. But the consoling message of Christmas is that despite all our pains and sorrows, God dwells in our midst as liberator and bringer of peace. So, there is no reason to give in to frustration and hopelessness. May the full joy of Christmas find a home in our lives and families.
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