Last night we celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ, the fact that Light has come into the Darkness, that we have been liberated from our oppressors, that the burdens we carry have been lifted and God has blessed us with joy. We celebrated the fact that God is establishing a kingdom of justice and peace – it is not temporary – it is permanent and God calls us and blesses us with a mission. God asks us to be a Light in the Darkness; to be Faith, Hope and Love for a world that struggles.
In our first reading today, we hear Isaiah proclaim that the feet of those who bring good news are beautiful. The Lord has come and is walking among us. He has redeemed and he has comforted his People. His presence and his power are seen by everyone. Isaiah tell us that our proper response is to sing songs of praise and thanksgiving.
In the Gospel reading from John, we are reminded that Jesus comes from God. Jesus was with God and was sent into the world as a light to overcome the darkness. John reminds us that sometimes we don’t recognize Christ or his message despite being his people, his disciples. John reaffirms that Christ has come into our midst, he has taken on flesh like us, and he walks among us. John reminds us that there is more to Christ than his life and death. He is resurrected, he is transformed and we have already seen his glory.
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the Son of God and that God is revealed in Christ. The author says, “Christ is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being and he sustains all things by his powerful word.”
It is our custom at Christmas to travel, to gather with friends and family, to visit and socialize with people in our communities. There is something comforting about many of our Christmas traditions and rituals. Even if we don’t go to Church much during the year, many of us make our way to the Church for Christmas. This year, because of the virus we have had to stop doing what is ‘normal’ for us. This pause gives us the opportunity to look deeper, to ask ourselves why we do what we do. I am not suggesting the virus is a blessing. I am simply saying that the presence of the virus is giving us an opportunity to look deeper at our lives.
We can look deeper at what is happening to our earth – to our land, to our water and to the air we breathe.
We can look deeper at what is happening to the people around us – the people we love and care about, the people who are special to us, the people we waste time with, the people for whom we make sacrifices. We can look deeper at the people we hate, the people we ignore and exclude, the people who are different from us and those we have decided don’t matter to us.
We can look deeper at what is happening within our own hearts – the way we see ourselves, the things we are proud of and the things that we are ashamed of, the things we focus on and the things we ignore, the things we are afraid of and the things we value and hold dear!
When we look deeper at our world, the people around us and at our own selves we discover we are small, vulnerable, broken, incomplete and sinful; we also discover that we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are wonderful, gifted, brilliant, funny, delightful, playful and beautiful. When we look deeper at our world, the people around us and at our own selves we discover that there is a God who created us and a God who sustains us.
When we look deeper, we discover that what we do and how we do it matters to us and it matters to God. News that we matter to God is welcome news. News that God sent his Son to us – to walk among us is welcome news. News that in Christ Jesus we can see and know our God is welcome news.
We know well our limitations. This spring when our rivers flooded and our roads were washed out, this summer when storms lashed our land and wind and hail damaged our crops and our property, this year when glaciers melted, crumbled and broke off, this year when earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes happened and this year when heat waves rolled across our planet we recognized how vulnerable and helpless we are.
In and through Christ, God knows our brilliance and our vulnerability. When God sees us God says, “I love you, I delight in you and I will be light in your darkness.”
On the one hand, the world reminds us of how small we are and on the other hand it reminds us of how important we are. We carry this news in our bodies, in our hearts and in our minds. We can choose to be a source of life and of hope for one another or we can choose to frighten, intimidate and harm each other. It really is our choice what we want to do.
There is so much that we cannot do right now and that gives us the opportunity to do something important. This Christmas let us take the opportunity to sit still and to listen to God. We can listen and let God tell us that we are precious to him. We can listen and let God tell us that we are never alone. We can listen and let God tell us that who we are and what we do matters to him. When this knowledge settles within us, we can go and share this news with others. We will become Good News on the mountain tops, on the prairies, on the coastlands and in the valleys, forests and deserts.
With the pandemic all around us it may seem as if God has abandoned us, God has not. We are living proof of God’s love for the world and of God’s presence in it! Let us be Good News! God is counting us! The world needs us!
Fr. Doug Jeffrey, OMI