Today we celebrate the birth of the true Light of the World, “the splendor of the light of Christ, which breaks into our Advent darkness” (cf. Introduction to the Christmas Season). With the grace of this day, we can “see directly, before our eyes” – the eyes of faith – “the LORD restoring Zion,” as the reading from Isaiah states. In the humble manger lies the newborn babe whose tiny feet will “bring glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation.”
Though we live in times when we see a distressing new decline into darkness, we are not discouraged, for we also have the blessing of over two thousand years of Church history and teaching, so we can appreciate the enormous impact of this birthday on the world. Today’s readings reveal how God’s plan for the salvation of the world has unfolded in history and is still coming to its fulfillment. We can truly celebrate that the Savior has come and reconciled us with the Father, that he continues his work in the world today. His birth is a factual, historical reality, which at the same time is a revelation of something that transcends all time and space. That he who is “the very imprint of the Father’s being,” the One who “sustains all things by his mighty word,” descended from Heaven, descending lower than the angels, to unite his divinity with our lowly humanity, is astounding and humbling! Indeed, today is a celebration, a great solemnity!
The Gospel of John tells us that this tiny babe lying in a manger before Mary and Joseph is the Word of God, who “became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Now that he is here with us, what can we in turn do to honor his extraordinary act of humility and mercy? The Gospel gives us clear instructions. “His own people did not accept him,” but we can accept him. We truly celebrate Christmas by accepting the gift of God, by accepting him, accepting the truth of who he is, accepting his word to us – accepting in faith the wonder that is revealed so simply on this holy day.
When we accept him, when we “believe in his name,” he gives us “power to become children of God.” The relationship with God that has been opened for us is that of children with our Father, through the glory of “the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” As in every relationship, there is both receiving and giving. How can we measure what we receive from God? There is no end to it! We can receive the Sacraments, we can receive Truth, we can receive Divine Mercy. “From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace.” And from the abundant grace which we have received, we can give: we can give God praise, glory, and thanksgiving. We can “sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds!” Finally, we can love – love God more, love one another more, and allow God’s love to make us more fully who he created us to be.
By his birth, which we celebrate on this Christmas Day, we are given hope. God has not abandoned the world. He has not abandoned us in the darkness of sin and death. Rather, he himself came in person, in Jesus Christ, true God and true man, to unite our humanity with his divinity, to reconcile us with the Father, and to give us the ultimate gift of eternal life. What a blessed Christmas gift! “A holy day has dawned upon us. Come, you nations, and adore the Lord. For today a great light has come upon the earth. Alleluia!”
What are the dark areas of my life that long for the light of Christ? How have I been preparing my heart to receive peace with God and with one another? In what ways do I allow God’s love to make me more fully who he created me to be?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 18, no. 1. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.