In the Gospel for Mass on Christmas Day, St John the Evangelist describes the coming of Christ in the Nativity as a battle between light and darkness: a battle in which there is only one victor:
“The Word was the true light that enlightens all men and women… A light that shines in the darkness, a light that darkness that could not overpower.”
As we journey through Advent, the nights draw in and the days grow darker. It may seem to us, too, that the world around us is darkened and clouded by uncertainty and dissension. Deep divisions seem to shadow our society; divisions too about our nature and identity as a country and its place in the world, with no clear path visible where those who have disagreed might learn to walk forward together.
By way of contrast, our television and our computer screens are full of bright but garish and deceptive lights: the lights of celebrity culture, and of consumerism, that lead us into blind alleys and cul-de-sacs, where Christmas is valued only in terms of what we buy and spend and consume.
How we need the clarity and simplicity of St John’s vision! The light that John saw is not a glittering object that momentarily distracts us from the darkness. It is a person: the person of Jesus Christ, who steps into the darkness and difficulty of our world to brighten it with the light of God’s love.
How too we need St John’s optimism! Jesus comes to us in vulnerability and frailty, as a helpless child. Yet the love that He proclaims cannot be defeated, and will in the end be the only answer to the questions troubling our uncertain world. The path that He illuminates will always lead us to peace and to unity.
A light shines in the darkness, a light that darkness that could not overpower.
May the light of Christ guide you and your family this Christmas, and throughout the year to come.
With my good wishes and blessing for a peaceful and joyful celebration,
Bishop Alan Hopes