This Christmas, as we celebrate the coming of the Light into the world again.
“This is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God” (Jn. 3:10-21).
The brilliant light of the truth is in these words. For all of us, at one time or another, they may be too bright. For when we feel the experience of the sensation of guilt for something we have done or did not do, we generally want to hide from the consequences of our sinful errors. We are ashamed, or embarrassed by the bright light of the truth. We want to hide from the real or potential consequences and responsibilities that arise from our misused words, or our wrongful actions.
When this happens, we are often guilty of another sin. We lie to cover our tracks or to shift the blame onto someone or something else. This is a metaphorical kind of darkness. When we do this we are generally trying to avoid or to hide from the prospect of suffering that is associated with the real and legitimate consequences of our words and deeds. We are attempting to hide in the shadows of a lie to avoid the responsibility for our actions. The fact is that we all sin. This passage challenges us with the truth that it is the recognition of sin, the recognition of the darkness, and the desire to move back toward the light, that is the beginning of our healing. But those who fall into the habits of sin to the point where they no longer recognize it as sin, are truly people of darkness.
All sin is done in darkness. But 2,023 years ago, the light of God’s love entered our darkened world as an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes. Jesus Christ came to bring the light of love, mercy, and forgiveness back into the world again, once and for all. And he has promised to be with us “to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20). The images of Christmas are filled with this idea of darkness and light. Jesus is born in the darkness of a cave, under a cold night sky, and in the shadows of anonymity. And Shepherds minding their flocks through the dark night were suddenly frightened by a sudden brilliance of light when an “angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Lk. 2:9). Then they hear, “Do not be afraid; for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people” (Lk. 2:10). We also hear of a bright star in the night sky that guides the magi, leading them to the birthplace and then hovers over it.
The Christmas season for those north of the equator, occurs at the darkest time of the year. The Christmas trees, the festive lights that we decorate our house with, are subconscious reminders of our yearning for the light. But it is the birth of Jesus, the light of the world, that reminds us again and again, that we are loved unconditionally, and that we are made for the light. It challenges us to turn again toward the light of God’s truth, love, goodness and beauty, and away from the dark places and ways that are of the world. “Whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done by God” (Jn. 3:21).
This Christmas, as we celebrate the coming of the Light into the world again, let us turn the eyes of our hearts, minds, and souls back toward Him who is our, “Wonder Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).SKM: below-content placeholder