The Nativity of the Lord

George F. Riley, O.S.A.
St. Thomas Monastery
Villanova, Pennsylvania

Is 9:1-6
Ps 96: 1-2, 2-3, 11-12, 13
Ti 2:11-14
Lk 2:1-14

Christmas is the story of our redemption, the tale of the God-Man who would die for mankind’s salvation. Is life, love, and health worth a nickel if the heaven that we are destined for remains closed? This child of Bethlehem was born 2000 years ago in order that it might not remain closed. That is why Christmas is a holy day and then a holiday. That is why Christmas is a festival of light.

With a proven relationship between light and life, why walk in darkness?

Jesus Christ has said, “I am the light of the world. He that followeth Me walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” The natural light of the sun promotes and maintains life in plants, animals and man. The supernatural light of the Son of God causes the seed of grace and love and compassion.

The light of God led the Magi to Bethlehem over 1900 years ago. Down through the centuries this light has been making manifest the works of God to man. Today this same light is beckoning to us through the darkness. This same light is inviting us to come into its warmth. This same light is inviting us to serve a meaningful and purposeful existence.

Bethlehem became a link between heaven and earth. God and man met here and looked each other in the face. He who had his birth in Bethlehem came to be born into the hearts of men.

For what would it profit if Christ was born a thousand times in Bethlehem if he were not born once and always in us?

At Christmas, with a proven relationship between light and life, why walk in darkness?

Do not hide your light under a bushel basket, but be a tiny image of Christ, the light of the world. He is the bonfire, we are his sparks. He has come to set fire to the earth, we are sent to carry it to darkened hearts. He is the star, we are the wise ones who announce his appearance.

The almanacs tell us the days have started to lengthen. A few minutes more of light each day. Yet it will be weeks before we notice it, and months before we feel it. No matter; that Light of which every worldly brightness is a poor copy now shines with incomparable radiance. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God has made His home with us. Bright May and warm June will come, when our slow planet finally gives birth to the seed of the winter solstice. But today, no matter how cold the air or grey the skies or short the day, let us give the Trinity praise and gratitude, for the gift of the light of Bethlehem which shines bright in every season, which no darkness can overcome, and which we can carry to others only when it first burns in us.