The world, in many ways, seems to be going mad. Things that should be simply a matter of common sense are no longer accepted as truth. More and more people see the spiritual darkness growing. Mankind has always needed a Savior, but it seems to be clearer and clearer how much we need Him to shed light in the darkness now. The Christ-Child born at Christmas is the light we need to share with the world. We cannot hide that light. We must boldly proclaim it to the world.
The Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord is the time we celebrate the fulfillment of God’s plan to bring light to a fallen world. His plan of redemption. As C. S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity:
Enemy-occupied territory — that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.
Christmas is the stealthy landing behind enemy lines in which God condescends Himself to become a babe in a manger in order to bring about the salvation of the world. He descends into the utter darkness, weakness, and helplessness of the human condition so that He may shed a great light upon us and draw us into friendship with Him. The King of the Universe comes to save us, not with power and might, but rather, through total self-emptying as He takes on human nature and is born as a helpless child to Our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph.
There is little doubt, as we look at the world, that we live in Enemy territory. The news is a constant barrage of violence, injustice, fear, illness, natural disasters, and suffering. Every single day, people suffer immensely. Given the rise of powerful agendas diametrically opposed to our Faith and reality itself, it is clear that the greatest suffering and tragedy to befall each one of us is sin. Sin tears us away from union with God and one another. It leaves us in darkness when we are made for the light.
The light we are given at Christmas is the light of truth. It is the gift of God Himself who calls to us. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains in his 2005 Christmas Homily:
But first, light means knowledge; it means truth, as contrasted with the darkness of falsehood and ignorance. Light gives us life, it shows us the way. But light, as a source of heat, also means love. Where there is love, light shines forth in the world; where there is hatred, the world remains in darkness. In the stable of Bethlehem there appeared the great light which the world awaits. In that Child lying in the stable, God has shown his glory—the glory of love, which gives itself away, stripping itself of all grandeur in order to guide us along the way of love. The light of Bethlehem has never been extinguished. In every age it has touched men and women, “it has shone around them”. Wherever people put their faith in that Child, charity also sprang up—charity towards others, loving concern for the weak and the suffering, the grace of forgiveness.
We are set free from darkness when we encounter the Christ-Child and dwell in charity and truth. 1 John 1:5 reminds us: “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness.” We are called to constantly live in the light each day of our lives by leaving behind sin; not only will this secure our own salvation, but it will draw others who live in darkness to the light.
The people around us are falling into greater and greater darkness. We ourselves fall into darkness by our indifference, attachment to sin, and over-reliance on the things of this world. The people around us need to see the light of Christ radiating from us. They need to know that the Savior of the world has come, and He has conquered the Prince of Darkness who holds us captive. They need us to proclaim His wondrous birth with joy in order to draw them into the freedom we have been given by Christ.
Charity demands we share with others the light of truth found in Christ’s saving work. We know the great joy of Christmas and the Good News. We know Who has conquered the darkness and what is required of us in order to enter into the light. That joy is meant to be shared with everyone we come into contact with, which is why we must rely on God to help us always remain in the light of the Spirit.
The Church’s history and the lives of the saints demonstrate the impact the light of God has on people and the world. Holy lives radiate the love of God. Holiness is infectious. When we meet truly holy people, we desire to be like them because we have encountered God dwelling within them. We see the joy that comes from being a person of the light.
From Bethlehem, a stream of light, love and truth spreads through the centuries. If we look to the Saints — from Paul and Augustine to Francis and Dominic, from Francis Xavier and Teresa of Avila to Mother Teresa of Calcutta — we see this flood of goodness, this path of light kindled ever anew by the mystery of Bethlehem, by that God who became a Child. In that Child, God countered the violence of this world with his own goodness. He calls us to follow that Child.Ibid
The real gift we receive each Christmas is the light of Christ dwelling among us in the manger through His birth into this Fallen world. The news of the Incarnate Word of God coming to save us from the darkness of sin, death, and the devil is something the whole world needs to hear. May we proclaim the Good News of the birth of Jesus to the world, so that others may be drawn out of darkness and into the great Light.