Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord
During the Night

December 25, 2014 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9:1). Jesus’ birth brought a great light into the world. In the middle of the night, an immense light awakened the shepherds. A light much brighter than the sun anticipated the dawn. The glory of the Lord shone upon them and music came down from heaven. It is easy to understand why the shepherds were astonished. They had passed from darkness to light. Their experience exemplifies Christian life.

Darkness seems to dominate the world. We can identify many signs of its dominion: wars, terrorism, persecutions of Christians, human trafficking, abortion, drug addiction, euthanasia, pornography, racism, ethnic hatred etc. It is easy to feel discouraged when we think that darkness prevails.

In the Gospel according to John, Jesus says: “I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness” (Jn 12:46). To follow Christ means to reject darkness and follow the light.

There is also darkness in those areas of our own lives that the light of God has still not reached. In today’s second reading, St. Paul helps us understand the meaning of this passage from darkness to light. He writes: “The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires” (1 Ti 2:11).

St. Paul tells us that in order to follow the light, we need to reject what opposes it: “godless ways” and “worldly desires.” The event of Christ and our encounter with him brings us light and changes us.

The separation of everyday life from faith is very common. Those who profess to be believers often do not act or think according to the faith but according to the world, thereby forfeiting what is great and eternal for what is small and transient. “Worldly desires” are given precedence over the desire for a holy life. St. Paul says that we are called “to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age.”

It is not easy for our contemporaries to understand the newness and beauty of Christian life. Blindness to divine light is widespread, preventing us from spontaneously recognizing God’s presence. It seems that we need a miracle, an intervention from heaven to rouse people from the prevailing mentality propagated by the media. Like the shepherds, we need to be surprised in order to be roused from our somnolence.

The moral teachings and doctrine of the Church do not seem to be convincing to our generation. The goodness and truth of Christianity seem to exert  less appeal than the pervasive low-cost forms of secular entertainment.  It will take the beauty of Christian life to persuade our contemporaries of the existence of God. It will take the surprise of an unprecedented event to convince men of the greatness of their destiny.

Like the shepherds, we need to encounter the light of God. We need to be fascinated by its beauty. The knowled­­­­­­ge of God is the only thing that can bring true peace to human hearts. In order to know God, we need to contemplate the signs given to us in total simplicity: “And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12).

Tonight, God is near. Some of the light of Christ’s manger reaches us in this church. It is unworthy to celebrate Christmas if it does not rouse us from everyday distractions and superficiality.

Let us pray that the celebration of Christmas may be an occasion to reencounter God, who is visiting us. May we have the grace of being surprised once again by the eternal novelty of Christmas. May the silent light of the night when Jesus was born reach each one of us and fill our hearts with joy and peace.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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