Christ­mas, Sea­son of Light

The Southern Gazette - - EDITORIAL - BY MARGRET HANN

One of the uni­ver­sal im­ages of Christ­mas is “light”. Dur­ing De­cem­ber peo­ple all around the world place lights over their hol­i­day tree, on their homes and lawns, and in their win­dows.

The first link be­tween light and Christ­mas come from the an­cient Jewish prophet Isa­iah, who had the vi­sion for the fu­ture: “The peo­ple walk­ing in dark­ness have seen a great light; on those liv­ing in the land of deep dark­ness a light has dawned” (Isa­iah 9:12). Cen­turies later Isa­iah’s state­ment was di­rectly con­nected to the birth of Je­sus by the dis­ci­ple John who said that this Life brought life to ev­ery­one, and added, “The light shines in the dark­ness and the dark­ness can­not over­come it” (John 1:45).

St Luke notes that when Je­sus was born, a great light, the glory of the Lord shone upon the poor shep­herds.

St Matthew notes that the bright light of the Star shone down upon the place when the wise men “found the Child with Mary, His Mother”.

In the tem­ple Simeon called Je­sus “A re­veal­ing Light to the Gen­tiles, later Je­sus was to say, “I am the Light of the World. No fol­lower of mine shall ever walk in dark­ness”.

The out­door lights may not be a great philo­soph­i­cal state­ment, but they do show a cer­tain outreach, a cer­tain sense of shar­ing. They are some kind of Light in the dark­ness. There is enough dark­ness in the world, enough sad­ness, grief and pain. A Light in the dark­ness is wel­come.

Dur­ing the month of De­cem­ber we all can do our part to brighten up the light of Christ­mas for our­selves and oth­ers. Pre­cisely be­cause Christ­mas is a sea­son of joy, it places spe­cial pres­sures on some peo­ple whose rel­a­tives have died, and whose mem­o­ries be­come vivid at Christ­mas; peo­ple who are sick and lonely; peo­ple who are away from home; peo­ple who are poor and can­not pro­vide much for their chil­dren.

Christ­mas is the ideal time of year to es­tab­lish rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and for­give­ness. This Christ­mas let us give the “Gift of For­give­ness”.

We won’t have to shop around for this “Gift” and for its wrap­ping of sil­ver and gold. Let us think of some­one who was kind to us in the past. Reach out to that per­son and re­turn “in kind” to him or her. Your action of kind­ness re­turned will be­come an un­for­get­table bless­ing. St. Paul ad­vised us, “Be kind to each other, ten­der­hearted, for­giv­ing one an­other as God though Christ has for­given you” (Eph­e­sian 4:32).

Yes, we can be a Se­cret Santa too. Spread the spirit of giv­ing to some­one you would not nor­mally have on your Christ­mas gift-giv­ing list. Then, hon­our that per­son with a gift, but do it anony­mously. This type of action is pro­moted by St. Paul, who in­structed Chris­tians to “use their money to do good, and be rich in good works and gen­er­ous” (1 Ti­mothy 6:18).

“Cul­ti­vat­ing grat­i­tude is a very pow­er­ful prac­tice that bal­ances your mind’s ten­dency to fo­cus on what’s ir­ri­tat­ing or what’s lack­ing in the present mo­ment. Con­stantly fo­cus­ing on the neg­a­tive as­pects of your ex­pe­ri­ences can lead to a dis­torted per­cep­tion of life. (Au­thor of Emo­tional Chaos to Clar­ity”).

Even if we feel we are strug­gling through the hol­i­days, trust that God is guid­ing and di­rect­ing our life. Let us re­mind our­selves of those en­cour­ag­ing words from the Bi­ble. “For I know the plans I have for you”, de­clares the Lord, “plans to proper you and not to harm you, plan to give you hope and a fu­ture” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Many of our broth­ers and sis­ters are hurt­ing, dis­cour­aged and have no hope for the fu­ture. They need to feel God’s com­pas­sion and love. Let us try to take some time to help our fel­low hu­man be­ings in what­ever way we can. May we all be able to of­fer oth­ers God’s un­con­di­tional love and com­pas­sion.

“The Light of Christ” is a mys­te­ri­ous light. The Char­ac­ter of Christ’s light was re­vealed in the lone­li­ness of the Sta­ble, the still­ness of the Night of Birth, the Straw and the Manger; in the love of Mary and Joseph.

When Je­sus was born in Beth­le­hem the Light shone in the dark­ness not just in Beth­le­hem, but also in our dark­ness as well. Christ is the Light and the Love with whom we walk through our present dark­ness un­til to each of us the full­ness of God’s glory is re­vealed.

Dur­ing the month of De­cem­ber be a “Star”. Let us all do our part to brighten the Light of Christ­mas.

May the Bless­ings and Joy of God’s great­est Gift be yours this Christ­mas and through­out the New Year.

Blessed Christ­mas to all!

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