Jesus, the light of our lives

Filed under: Sunday Homily |

Solemnity of Christmas (A), John 1:1-18
December 25, 2016

By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB

THERE is no doubt that we live in a world darkened by sin—sin in its almost innumerable forms of pride, lust, exploitation, injustice, oppression, terrorism, hunger, war . . . . We are surrounded by this ocean of man-made forms of moral disorder which causes so much suffering, confusion and even despair.

The horrors of the “Holocaust”; the brutalities of the Japanese occupation forces throughout Asia; the dropping of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the inhumanity of the Soviet “Gulags”; the killing sprees of Pal Pot’s Xmers Ronges; the carnage of the terrorist attacks in New York and other parts of the world; the endless number of innocent people victimized by suicide bombers, bombings, kidnappings, systematic torture and other forms of human perversion . . . are just the tip of the iceberg of sin that tarnished the 20th century and has already begun to infect the new millennium we have just started . . . .

It is an old story, an old form of “moral pollution and degradation” that have their roots in the very beginning of human history and which has kept growing over the centuries. Such a situation is very different from what God wanted for mankind, for God Himself is light and all that He created was bright and beautiful.

And it was in order to restore humankind to its pristine splendor that He sent His only Son, who is “Light from Light” to this world of ours, darkened by sin. His coming was the wonder we call “Christmas” – the wonder of the eternal, omnipotent God becoming a mortal, frail human being; the wonder of a spark of divine light daring to challenge the darkness of sin in the heart of every individual and of society.

One would have expected an enthusiastic reception, but things turned out very different. When the Light of the universe came into this world, he got a “mixed reception.” A very tiny group, comprised of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Magi welcomed him with joy and gratitude. The greatest majority treated that coming as a “non-event,” while others rejected him, forging an incomprehensible alliance with the darkness that was destroying them. Incredibly, many slaves had learned to love their chains. That was the “sorrowful mystery” of human perversion at its worst!

But God’s love is too pure and strong to be defeated by man’s rejection. God’s Light, clad in human weakness—Jesus Christ—continued to shine for the sake of all: both for those who accepted him and those who kept rejecting him. He continues to shine in the Church, in his Word and his Sacraments, in the supreme effort to win over all human beings through the divine embrace that knows no fading and no retreat.

God’s light, in fact, shines on in all those who accept it, for the Incarnate Son of God has given them the power to become children of God, children of Light. To them, he has entrusted the challenging mission to widen the circle of light, grace and goodness by conquering new hearts and new generations to the cause of light. It is the joyful mystery of a “perpetual Christmas” made possible by the constant presence of Jesus’ Spirit in the hearts of the “children of light.”

Since then, though sin has not been eliminated from the face of the earth, its absolute domain has been challenged and is destined to be shattered. Now we have a choice and a chance: all human beings have the possibility of choosing between the light of God’s Kingdom and the darkness of Satan’s. Those who take the first option have the chance to eliminate the “pockets of darkness” in themselves and in the environment in which they live. In this way, the spark of light that came to earth on the first Christmas has been spreading from heart to heart, bringing hope and peace to a world that needs both so much.

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