The Nativity of the Lord

Stephen Baker-headshot-web.jpg

Stephen J. Baker, O.S.A.
Villanova University
Villanova, Pennsylvania

Readings • Christmas Mass During the Night
Is 9:1-6
Ps 96: 1-2, 2-3, 11-12, 13
Ti 2:11-14
Lk 2:1-14

In the first reading for the Christmas Mass during the night, the prophet Isaiah proclaims: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.” To say that we have walked in the darkness and have dwelt in a land of gloom this past year seems to be an understatement. We have been living in the throes of a global pandemic. COVID-19 has taken its toll on us. Loved ones have endured sickness. Loved ones have died. Relatives and neighbors have lost their jobs. Small business owners are clawing to survive in the face of shutdowns and lockdowns. Lines of cars miles long wait for food for their tables. Our political discourse is in tatters. We experience uncertainty, anxiety, fear, frustration, anger and loneliness. When will it get better? We feel the darkness; we experience the gloom.

The message of Christmas is that the light has come. The Christ has come. We celebrate on this Christmas Day the Eternal Word taking on our human nature. The God of Love has desired to come close to us by taking on our flesh, by becoming one like us. God has come to us in the person of Jesus as a babe in the manger to begin his journey of proclaiming God’s love and salvation. He would prove this love to us over and over through his life and ultimately through his death on the Cross. God would raise Jesus from the dead to lead us from the darkness of sin and sadness, the darkness of tragedy and sorrow into the light of healing, happiness and peace. Jesus Christ is the Light who shines continuously on his church, his community of disciples who are walking toward the Kingdom of God.

As members of the church, as disciples of Jesus, we are challenged by this Christmas Day to continue the mission of Jesus to be Light in our world. But how? How can we be a light to the world? We just to have to look around for the many examples of women and men who have responded to this call to be light to the world. Look at the health care professionals who have worked tirelessly taking care of the many people who are suffering from the coronavirus, some to the point of sacrificing their own lives to save the lives of others. Look at the essential workers in our communities who get up day after day to provide for our needs. Look at the many people who have stepped up to provide food to the staggering high number of people who are suffering from food insecurity, many for the first time in their lives. Look at the scientists and medical researchers who have worked hour by hour to provide a light at the end of the dark tunnel of this pandemic through the production of at least two vaccines. Look at neighbor helping neighbor as they provide for whatever is needed in the moment. These people are light. These people are living the message of Christmas, the light of Christmas! How might we be light to others and to the world?

Merry Christmas!