Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. (Is. 9:1)
We naturally yearn for the light, especially when times are dark. Whether it is in the depths of winter with late sunrises and early sunsets, whether we are cooped up all day at work or school, or we suffer from a nightmare, we long for the warmth, the brightness and comfort of the light. Most life cannot survive without the sun.
There is, however, a light beyond the sun that we yearn for, a light even more vital to life itself: according to today’s Gospel that light is Christ who’s “life was the light of the whole human race.” Even should all the year be summer, all the world be flooded with the light of lamp and sun, we would yet yearn for the greater light, that light which illuminates every dark corner of the soul, disperses the deepest shadow of confusion, and warms the most frigid desolation: a light that no darkness can overcome.
This yearning for light is inseparably linked to our desire for life; just as a houseplant reaches every limb and tendril toward the nearest window our souls reach out to God, for in the soul light and life are the same things. So it is that during the Christmas season, in the very heart of winter, even those who think little of God during the warmer months find themselves reaching out to the Infant in the manger. Only through that little Life do we receive the Eternal Life we long for, but how do we receive that life? “But to those who did accept Him, He gave power to become children of God…”
To be a child is to be one who receives life from another; we have received our human life from our parents. It is precisely through Christ—God-Become-Man—that we become children of God, receiving our Eternal Life from He who is Eternal. The Infant is not only the Fire that consoles us with light and warmth in the cold darkness of our winter of sin; He is the one of whom the song sings “…chains shall He break for the slave is our brother…” If we accept Christ as our brother, then His Father is our Father; thus through Him we receive life not as we did at our natural birth, not by anyone’s choice, but rather as a pure, undeserved “grace in place of grace.”