Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of darkness – on them light has shone.” This message of hope is directed not only at the people for whom it was first written thousands of years ago, but also at us. Then it was a promise of what was to come; today the Church announces that promise as fulfilled. Isaiah linked the coming of the light with the birth of a child: “For a child has been born for us, a son given us.” The Gospel announces this child to be the one born of the Virgin Mary: “and she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger….” With this birth the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds keeping watch nearby. The light has come in the child born in Bethlehem.
Why is he the light? As St. Paul puts it, in Jesus, the grace of God has appeared. Jesus is the very Son of God, who has assumed our human nature. There is no darkness in God, only light, so in Jesus we can see. In him we see the truth of God’s love and mercy. In this light, we also see the truth of ourselves: God’s beloved children in need of rescue from the darkness we bring upon ourselves through sinfulness. As we celebrate the birth of our saviour, let us offer to him any areas of darkness in our own lives - fear, anxiety, guilt, despair – and ask him to dispel it by the light of his love and mercy so that we might know the hope and peace he came from heaven to bring.