In the early darkness of winter, it is a welcome sight to see Christmas lights decorating homes and yards. Though they may be far removed from the early Christian tradition of placing candles on a tree, these lights are still a good reminder that illumination in the darkness symbolizes Christ who is the light of the world.
In the book of Isaiah, we read that the people who walked in darkness saw a great light: “Upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing.”
Jesus is called a light many times in the New Testament. In the Gospel of John, He even refers to Himself as such, stating: “I am the light of the world, he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John begins his Gospel with “the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world”, and in the Nicene Creed, we call Jesus “Light from Light.”
Jesus as our light guides the way to faith, truth, knowledge and salvation. As the Church begins this celebration of Christmas, which will last until the Solemnity of the Epiphany, we commemorate the display of Christ as the savior of the world. He is also known by many other names, and it is good to contemplate these labels and what they truly mean, particularly as we hear about the violence and evil that plagues our society. During these times, we can look to the Gospel for inspiration and transformation.
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, Upon David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this!”
What a comforting thought to realize that we can trust in the Lord because He is all of these things, and remember that “they shall call his name Emmanuel”, which means God is with us.
And God is with us, now and always. He is with us throughout our lives as a child at Christmas, as a son, as a father, as a man who bears the burdens of the world, as a spirit who fills our hearts, and as a glorious savior who welcomes us to His kingdom.
May you and your families have a blessed Christmas.
Image: The Adoration of the Shepherds by Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich (1712-1774).