Christmas Day Mass, 25 December, 2023: Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18
This life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
That verse is certainly a crucial reminder for our times. The fact is, we recognize light because it contrasts with the darkness and on whatever light shines, will cast a shadow. Here and now there is not one without the other; and the light we celebrate today cannot be overcome by the darkness.
Right before Advent, as I was mulling over some miserable current events, I came across this line in a homily by Karl Rahner: we can never have the right to believe only in the darkness of this earth. Rahner was speaking as a Christian, informed by the triumph of Christ not only in his resurrection from the dead, but by permeating creation at his Incarnation.
We may see bombed out cities, the corpses of the dead, the wounding and despair of victims, but isn’t Christ the light shining on all these? Isn’t he the light that enables us to bury and honor the dead for the lives they lived, to comfort the dying, to bind up the wounded? Isn’t Christ the light that heals through our hands and patient listening, that directs our energies to clear the rubble while strengthening our resolve to rebuild again? Isn’t he the perseverance that revives our fainting, discouraged hearts to try yet again, despite our own cowardice or frustration?
However far we humans have wandered, God, in Christ, has not given up on us. We are not left orphans abandoned in the shadows. Patiently God searches for us with an illuminating and reviving gaze, calling us from our self-imposed punishments, still hoping in us, confident that we can turn back and do better.
Christmas is much more than sentimental memories and an artificial ambience of nostalgia. Christmas is God’s investment in our human race and our responsiveness. Don’t we, indeed, have everything to celebrate on this Christmas Day?