Our celebration this Christmas invites us to pass through the darkness that has enveloped our troubled and fearful world so intensely in recent weeks and to allow ourselves in a spirit of simple faith to be led and enlivened by the hope of finding the “great light” that alone can usher in joy and happiness on earth. Indeed a “great light has come upon the earth.” And as the Prologue to John’s Gospel proclaims, the Word, who was “in the beginning with God and through whom all things came to be, was coming into the world and is the true light which enlightens everyone . . . What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
New life starts in the dark. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark. It starts right now in the darkness of our own fear, sadness and pain, for as Saint Ambrose has said, “His desire is always to enter and make his home with us.” Our desire, the deepest desire of our heart, readily recognizes his.
Contemplating the Christ Child in the manger scene is not a matter of fleeting sentimentality but a wonderful grace and opportunity to let go of our bright ideas about God, so that our eyes are open anew to the God who is: who is in our midst and flesh, in our world with its darkness and troubles, its suffering and violence, its homelessness and loneliness. Our God, “in whom we live and move and have our being,” makes himself small for us in order to take away our fear of his greatness. God deliberately, mercifully, made himself small in Bethlehem at a predawn hour, so that we could understand him, welcome him, and love him as the light of our life, a light that always shines in our darkness, a light that only love bestows and discovers.
Reflection by Father Dominic.