Merry Christmas!!! The Savior is born! Emmanuel – God with us!
My friends, what a precious gift for us to reflect on this Christmas Day – our God has become incarnate, taken on our humble humanity, to be with us now and for eternity. The Light of the World is come:
Your birth, O Christ our God has shed upon the world the light of knowledge; for through it, those who worshipped the stars have learned from a star to worship you, the Sun of Justice, and to know you, the Dawn from on High Glory to you, O Lord!
These words from the Christmas Liturgy of the Byzantine Catholic Church are steeped in the imagery of light. Today, we truly enter a season of light as we celebrate the Nativity of Jesus Christ. I can’t think of anything the United States and the whole world needs more at the end of an extremely trying and difficult year than the gift of Light. In words attributed to St. Francis, “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” Light illumines the darkness.
Light gives us hope, and the Light which is Christ provides us the most reliable hope of all – a hope we can place all of our trust and confidence in. He has promised us peace. He has promised us joy evermore. He has promised us mercy, forgiveness, comfort, and love that lasts forever.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
This pandemic year has left many without hope. Just about everyone has been personally affected by hardship in the form of illness, job loss, fear of illness, anxiety about work, and the lack of being able to spend time freely with family, friends, and others face to face. There has been an air of fear, anxiety, and sadness. Today, we are reminded why the darkness has no power. There is One who has enabled our suffering to have redemptive meaning and even gives the grace of joy in the midst of suffering. One who remains with us in the depths of our grief and sadness and blesses us with comfort. The One has come who is the Light that the darkness cannot and will not overcome. Today, we see Jesus Christ as a newborn and celebrate His birth into the world He created. Through Advent we’ve been reflecting on our dear Mother Mary and St. Joseph whose faith carried them through trial on the road to His birth. We ask for their prayers for our own faith and we ask their Savior Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, for a deeper faith and love for Him.
Amongst the celebration, excitement, and joy of today, may we find a quiet moment to come before our King as a baby. To revel in His humility and His love for us. He loves you more than you can comprehend. Challenge yourself to feel the depth of His love for you. See how He gazes upon you. See how He has provided for you and walked alongside you this past year. Thank Him for the moments He has carried you when you realized you couldn’t do it alone. Revel in this love.
May we ask the Lord for the gift and grace of joy today. Joy to share with everyone we meet or smile at (even if they can only see our eyes and we are 10 feet away). The joy of the Lord is palpable and His Love is for all. May we share it in any way we can with a world in need. This year, in a special way, people need to hear the good news and we need to go tell it on the mountains! Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is born! May we carry the Light of this season with us through this octave of Christmas and continue to spread it in the weeks, months, and years to come. Let us praise the Lord with everything we are! For He is good, He loves us all, and He is the Light for the whole world! Hallelujah! In the year 390, St. Gregory of Nazianz began his sermon on the Nativity with the joyous words below – in 2020, may we join in his words just as joyfully:
“Christ is born, glorify him! Christ came from heaven, welcome Him! Christ is on earth, exult! Sing to the Lord all the earth, Joyfully praise Him all you nations, For He has become glorious!”St. Gregory of Nazianz
God bless you, my brothers and sisters, and have a Merry Christmas!!
Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ – Icon