Is 52:7-10; Ps 98:1-6; Heb 1:1-6; Jn 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God….
(His) life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Darkness. Darkness. In order to really appreciate the Light, we have to understand some sense of darkness. Most modern buildings have emergency lighting that comes on in the event of a power failure. Imagine lights going off in the evening in this church. Most people could sit still for about one minute. There would be some who have to get up and move around right away and then others would move and soon everyone would be moving around in the darkness. Stumbling over each other, especially the smaller people and those who can’t move very quickly. Darkness is frightening and usually will lead to impatience, rash decisions, misunderstandings and eventually chaos.
Last night at the vigil Mass we proclaimed the first verses from the beginning of the Gospel according to Matthew. This is the one with that long genealogy tracking 54 generations of Israelites moving through almost 2000 years of history. This was a history of many ups and downs, lots of inspiration and despair, lots of idolatry and fidelity, lots of darkness and light. The next 2000 years of Catholic Church history includes that same volatility… a people often groping in the darkness and desperately seeking the light. The same could be said for the rest of human history on every continent, in every age with every ethnicity. People groping desperately for the Light.
But is that really true? Are we really seeking the True Light of the World? Do we even know when we are living in darkness? Is darkness our normal? Did our experience of Advent have us engaged in conversations about Truth and right living? Living in the Light?
Further along in today’s gospel according to John, it reads, “To those who did accept him, He gave power to become children of God… to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.
Who accept him…. Give someone genuine attention. Noticing that they are here and have a unique identity. Adopted children. Sooner or later they might realize they are a different color or with remarkably different facial or bodily features. Are they really accepted like the biological siblings? New in town or new in a family or perhaps a parish. How much focused attention are the new ones receiving? People eventually know if they are accepted. And a relationship happens or it doesn’t happen. A big smile and some nice words during some kind of gathering doesn’t really go far if there is not some focused conversation and genuine interest. Some follow-up. Acceptance means that there is some type of real relationship happening.
to those who believe in his name, who were born
Do we really believe that WE are made in the image and likeness of God? Are we really his adopted children? Did we all have a series of well-developed conversations during Advent about being the adopted children of God. Really? What does that even mean? And if that is not even a reality for ourselves, how can we appreciate that in others? All others? How can we really accept others?
Who were born? Anyone here ever been pregnant and then gave birth to someone? Was that a casual experience? ‘Oh yea and then our baby was born….’ Everyone in the family experienced some version of that pregnancy and birth. If one person in the house is really REALLY uncomfortable, EVERYONE experiences it. Everyone also experiences the emergency situations that can be part of pregnancy and birth. Point here is, it’s not casual. Birth is not casual. It’s traumatic!
And then take it further: What if we “were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God”? Would that be traumatic? Would that be memorable? Would we be preoccupied with this relationship for a while…. Or FOREVER?
Think about your kids. Does the complexity and needed attention just evaporate once you leave the hospital and get back to your own house and a normal routine? Hardly, the adventure is just beginning!! It will last for about 40 more years. It’s an endless experience of learning and being enlightened. Of ‘seeing the light’. I mean, when do you ever have your kids… or spouses…or any of the people in your life finally and completely figured out?
I think all of this is involved in Christmas. We need to give Jesus this much attention. We need to give the Church, the Body of Christ, this much attention. This is acceptance.
If we realize we are living in the darkness…
If we accept the light and are willing to go through the very real and even traumatic experience of being born. Born into a whole new life, not by human generation or decision, but from God’s decision. Then we will see the Light and BE Light bearers….
This is the promise of Emmanuel. God is with us. The world needs the light. The world needs our Light. All of our Lights.
Now let us proceed with this even deeper experience of God among and within us in the Eucharistic banquet.