Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hope in the midst of darkness

Hope in the midst of darkness
By The Post
Sat 25 Dec. 2010, 04:00 CAT

THIS is Christmas – the historical event and the mystery of love, which for more than 2000 years has spoken to men and women of every era and every place.

It is the holy day in which the great light of Christ shines forth, bearing peace. Certainly, if we are to recognise it, if we are to receive it, faith is needed and humility is needed.

The humility of men, who believed in the word of the Lord and, bending low over the manger, was the first to adore the fruit of Mary’s womb; the humility of Joseph, the just man, who had the courage of faith and preferred to obey God rather than protect his own reputation; the humility of the shepherds, the poor and anonymous shepherds, who received the proclamation of the heavenly messenger and hastened towards the stable, where they found the newborn child and worshiped him, full of astonishment, praising God (Luke 2:15-20).

The little ones, the poor in spirit: they are the key figures of Christmas, in the past and in the present; they have always been the key figures of God’s history, the indefatigable builders of his kingdom, justice, love and peace.

In the silence of that night in Bethlehem, Jesus was born and lovingly welcomed.

And now, on Christmas Day, when the joyful news of his saving birth continues to resound, who is ready to open the doors of his heart to the holy child?

Men and women of this modern age, Christ comes also to us, bringing his light; he comes also to us, granting peace.

But who is watching, in the night of doubt and uncertainty, with a vigilant, praying heart?

Who is waiting for the dawn of the new day, keeping alight the flame of faith? Who has the time to listen to his word and to become enfolded and entranced by his love? Yes, his message of peace is for everyone; he comes to offer himself to all people as a sure hope for salvation.

Finally, may the light of Christ, which comes to enlighten every human being, shine forth and bring consolation to those who live in the darkness of poverty and injustice; to those who are still denied their legitimate aspirations for a more secure existence, for health, education, stable employment, for fuller participation in civil and political responsibilities, free from repression and protected from conditions that offend against human dignity.

It is the most vulnerable members of society – women, children, the elderly – who are so often the victims of violence of every kind which inflicts such terrible sufferings on our entire population.

On this day of peace, our thoughts turn to those who are marginalised; who are afflicted in all sorts of ways.

May the child Jesus bring relief to those who are suffering and may he bestow upon our political leaders the wisdom and courage to seek and find humane, just, fair and lasting solutions to our many problems and challenges; to the thirst for meaning and value so characteristic of today’s world; may he bestow upon them the wisdom and courage to search for prosperity and peace that marks the lives of all mankind.

To the hopelessness of the poor, Christ – true God and true Man – responds with his Nativity. Neither individuals nor nations should be afraid to recognise and welcome him: with him ‘a shining light’ brightens the horizon of humanity; in him; ‘a holy day’ dawns that knows no sunset. May this Christmas truly be for all our people a day of joy, hope and peace. “Come you nations and adore the Lord.”

With Mary, Joseph and the shepherds, with the Magi and the countless host of humble worshipers of the newborn child, who down the centuries have welcomed the mystery of Christmas, let us too allow the light of this day to spread everywhere in our country.

May it enter our hearts, may it brighten and warm our homes, may it bring serenity and hope to our cities, towns, compounds and villages. This is our earnest wish for you our readers.

A wish that grows into a humble and trustful prayer to the child Jesus, that his light would dispel all darkness from your lives and fill you with love and peace.

May the Lord, who has made his merciful face shine in Christ, fill you with his happiness and make you messengers of his goodness. A holy day has dawned upon us.

A day of great hope: today the saviour of mankind is born. Today a great light has come upon the earth. The birth of a child normally brings a light of hope to those who are waiting anxiously.

When Jesus was born in the stable at Bethlehem, a great light appeared on earth; a great hope entered the hearts of those who awaited him.

Admittedly, it was not ‘great’ in the manner of this world, because the first to see it were only Mary, Joseph and some shepherds, then the Magi, the old man Simeon, the prophetess Anna: those whom God had chosen.

Yet, in the shadows and silence of that holy night, a great and inextinguishable light shone forth for every man; the great hope that brings happiness entered into the world: “the word was made flesh and we saw his glory” (John 1:14).

“God is light”, says St John, “and in him is no darkness at all” (1John 1:5). In the book of Genesis, we read that when the universe was created, “the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

“God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Genesis 1:2-3). The creative word of God is light, the source of life. All things were made through the light, not one thing had its being but through him (John 1:3). That is why all creatures are fundamentally good and bear within themselves the stamp of God, a spark of his light.

Nevertheless, when Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, the Light himself came into the world: in the words of the Creed, “God from God, Light from Light”.

In Jesus, God assumed what he was not, while remaining what he was: “omnipotence entered an infant’s body and did not cease to govern the universe”.

The creator of man became man in order to bring peace to the world. For this reason, during Christmas night, the hosts of angels sing: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those whom he loves” (Luke 2:14).

Christ comes to bring his light and hope to those surrounded by darkness (2 Corrithians 4:6). So it is in our world of darkness, Christ was born in Bethlehem, the light of the world and the hope of the nations.

Whoever you are, wherever you are in the world, when darkness surrounds you – the darkness of violence, the darkness of hunger and poverty, the darkness of disease, the darkness of injustice and repression, the darkness of loneliness and alienation – the message of Christmas is that the light shines out in darkness and into our hearts and brings us the real peace. May this light shine on you this Christmas.



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