Christmas: Celebrating hope in Christ
In the Book of the prophet Isaiah, it is written: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them a light has shone.” (Isaiah 9: 2).
As we approach another Christmas season, we are beginning to prepare ourselves for another busy time: decorating the home, inside and out; buying the perfect gifts for family and friends; family visiting from away and so on.
As we go about our preparations, we cannot help but think about the darkness both in our lives and our world. And what is that darkness? There is no shortage of examples. For instance, we have conflict in many parts of the world, tensions between nations and ethnic groups, protests against government indifference to social issues, increase in poverty and the cost of living; the more apparent impacts of climate change, ever increasing distrust of institutions. All of this is in addition to the many challenges we face in our own personal lives.
As we prepare for Christmas, we should not lose sight of what the season is really all about. In the Gospel of Luke, the Angel says to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Christ, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10).
It’s important to point out that shepherds were at the bottom of the social ladder and did not have great power or influence, and yet it was to them that the good news was announced.
Later in the Gospel, after seeing the child Jesus in the manger, “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God.” ( Luke 2: 20). What those shepherds found in Jesus was a source of great hope, hope that God would be with them. One of the titles attributed to Jesus is Emmanuel, that is, God-is-with-us.
In Jesus, “The Word became flesh and lived among us...” (John 1: 14).
In Jesus, God brought about the hope of a better world for all of us, a world in which love is greater than hate, hope is greater than despair and light is greater than darkness. Throughout his public life, Jesus made that hope real for so many people by healing the sick, reaching out to the poor, speaking out against injustice. He called it the Kingdom of God.
As we spend the Christmas season in the company of family and friends, let us ask the Lord to touch our hearts with his joy and love and, in turn, share that love and joy with those around us. Let’s make a special effort to share the hopeful message of Christmas with those who are in need of hope. Let’s pause, take a deep breath, look upon the child in the manger, and rest in the love and joy offered to us there.
On behalf of St. Ann’s Parish, I would like to wish all of you a happy and joyful Christmas season, and a hopeful New Year.