Christmas is a beautiful reminder of the love of God. It denotes the mystery of incarnation, the celebration of love and the reason for joy. St John (1: 5) writes the crux of the Christmas message, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” That is the joy of Christmas – the assurance of the Saviour and the assurance of his everlasting victory. Christmas brings to mind the time when God came to be Emmanuel – God with us. The light of the world came to be a part of creation. That is how much God loves us. The prophecy of Isaiah (9:2) sets forth an expectance in the Messiah’s role. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.”
We have stepped into the New Year. The Christmas and New Year celebrations are at an end. The Church calendar turns to Ordinary Times. It is time to take down the Christmas lights. But is the message of Christmas really over with the exchange of gifts and the family dinner? Is it over with packing up the Christmas decorations and dismantling the crib?
The message needs to be louder as we all step into the New Year. It needs to be louder as we step into life with its challenges. It needs to be louder when emptiness replaces the festive beautifications. It needs to be louder to heal and revive the world today.
Jesus gives us this great ministry to each one of us. He said, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5: 14). This is the message and mission of Christmas as we step into the New Year. We have the responsibility to bring light into darkness as Jesus did. During dark moments of life, bereft of hope, it is our responsibility to encourage those around us. When there seems no point in believing, we should help build the faith. We should remain as the beacons of light to those we encounter in our daily lives – our families, our friends, our colleagues, believers, non-believers. It is our duty to remind them of the message of Christmas – the message of love. Even when the lights on the Christmas trees cease to shine, our lives should glow to keep the message of Christ alive. The light of ours, the light of faith, the light of Jesus cannot be contained. As Jesus says, “No one after lighting a lamp and puts it under a bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house” (Matthew 5: 15). Our light remains throughout the year, throughout all seasons, throughout all weathers, for our source is Jesus, the light of the world.
At what could be the worst possible moment in a newly-wed couple’s life, Mother Mary did not lose hope. She taught us to offer, listen and obey the Word of God (John 2:1-11). In what seemed like an impossible situation where Jesus’ wandering disciples were tasked with feeding more than 5000 people, Andrew brought to Jesus the meagre five loves and two fish (John 6:1-14). When there was no way to bring their paralysed man to Jesus, his friends tore the roof and amazed Jesus with their faith (Matthew 9: 2-8). Jesus turned all these impossible situations into marvellous miracles through just that amount of faith displayed by someone close to him. We as children of God remain close to him. He expects us to take on the responsibilities now. When people are struggling with doubts and insecurity, Jesus wants us to light the flame of faith and hope as Mother Mary, Philip and the paralytic man’s friends did.
We should do the same, as we carry forward this light. Furthermore, to keep this light burning bright always, we need the oil of the Holy Spirit. A close relationship with God’s Spirit, who dwells in us making us his children, is essential to our goal and purpose in life. Jesus reminds us of the importance of oil in the lamp, when he speaks of the parable of the foolish women. These women were called, yet did not remember to keep extra oil. The joy of Christmas and the resolutions of the New Year, keeps the light shining bright in the beginning of the year. For it to continue burning throughout the year’s highs and lows, we need the Holy Spirit. We often forget the presence of the Mighty God in our bodies. St Paul writes, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11) We often rely on our own talents and strength to keep the light burning. We forget that we have the source of the light in us at all times. Conscious of our weaknesses, relying on his strength, let us this year remember that our light comes from God. Let us also remember that we have the mission to keep the light burning and to use it to guide the people around to Jesus. For this, let us pray with St Francis of Assisi, “Where there is darkness, let me bring your light Lord.”