Be the Light of Christ to others

Jn 1: 1- 18

I have a confession to make.  When I was a child I was a little afraid of the dark. Ok, I was afraid of the dark a lot. During this time, what saved me from a night of fear and allowed me to sleep was a little night light. Somehow this light made everything better. You may laugh, but I am sure I was not the only one! There is something very ingrained in the human consciousness about the dichotomy between light and darkness. There is something unnerving about darkness. It is somehow a reminder of death and evil. On the other hand light brings to mind life and goodness.  In the gospel we have heard this morning, St. John makes use of this contrast between light and darkness to teach us an important lesson about what the birth of Jesus Christ means for the world.

Because of sin, darkness entered the world. When we break ourselves off from God and do things to hurt our brothers and sisters, darkness is created on several levels.
  1. First, there is a darkness that separates us from God. We become cut-off from Him, the source of all life and love. We also lose sight of who God really is, we can forget that He is a loving Father and become afraid of Him instead.
  2. Second, sin brings a darkness that separates us from one another. We become jealous, envious, greedy and hurtful to each other. We can lose sight of what it truly means to be a human being and how we should act.
  3. Thirdly, sin brings darkness into our heart. We can feel great sadness. It can seem as though there is no joy, peace or hope in our soul.
At different times in our life we have all probably felt this darkness on all three levels. If our story ended here, things would seem very bleak indeed. Because of sin, darkness has entered the world.

Jesus was born so that He might bring light to the world. Christ came to overcome the darkness that sin created. If you look at Churches that were built long ago, you will find that they were traditionally built facing east. There is a very important reason for this. East is the direction from which the sun rises each morning when it comes to scatter the darkness and bring light and warmth to the earth. For early Christians, Jesus was often compared to the rising sun and so they wanted to build Churches facing the east. When Jesus was born, it was very much like a sunrise. He scattered the darkness caused by sin.
  1. Jesus came to reunite us with God. Because Jesus is truly God, He also reveals to us fully who God is, that He is a Father who loves and cares for us.
  2. Jesus also came to restore our broken relationships with each other. Because Jesus is also truly man, He shows us what it means to live best as a human being and how we should behave to one another.
  3. Jesus also came to scatter the darkness in our hearts. When we live close to Christ, He fills our hearts with joy, happiness and peace.

Jesus came into the world to be a light that scatters the darkness caused by sin.

As Christians we are meant to bring the light of Christ to those around us. Blessed Mother Teresa is well known for her work with the poor. Since her death, her personal writings have been made available to the public so that we can all learn better from her life. From these writings we learnt that before entering the slums of Calcutta, Mother Teresa received a very personal call from Jesus. In prayer, Mother Teresa heard the voice of Jesus speaking to her. Jesus said this to her: “Come be my light”, “carry me to the dark holes of the poor”. During her life, Mother Teresa came to understand that the poor lived in great darkness. This darkness was not just their material poverty, but also their loneliness and their feeling that they had been cast away by the rest of society. She realized that she was meant to bring the light of Christ to them. This meant more than giving the poor food and shelter. Through her actions, which could be as simple as a smile, listening to someone or saying a kind word, she tried to bring the love of Jesus to the poor. Daily we too encounter people who live in darkness. Perhaps they do not live in material poverty, but we all know people who are spiritually poor. These are people who are lonely, sad and feel unloved. Like Mother Teresa, through our kind actions we are called to be the light of Christ to these people.

The closer that we stay to Jesus, the brighter His light will burn in us. Most of you have probably seen those glow-in-the-dark stars that you can stick to the walls or ceiling of a room. Perhaps some of you even have them in your room. In order for the stars to glow in the dark, you need to keep them exposed to some light source, like an electric bulb or even the sun. Interestingly, the longer you keep the stars exposed to the light source, the brighter and longer the stars will glow when you turn off the lights. In our spiritual life, we are like these glow-in-the-dark stars and Jesus is the light source. The more that we stay in His presence, the brighter we will shine with His light.  If we spend little time with Jesus, then we cannot expect to glow brightly at all. There are many ways that we can spend time being exposed to Jesus. Some examples are prayer, going to Mass, reading the Scriptures and receiving the Sacrament of for example, by praying, going to Mass, reading the scriptures, and receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. The more we are in the presence of Jesus, the brighter we will radiate His light to others.

Because of the birth of Jesus we need no longer live in fear of the darkness caused by sin. He is the true light, the light that darkness cannot overcome. He reveals to us the Father and how we should live as human being. Sadly many around us still live in darkness. Today try to think of someone who is close to you who may live in loneliness, sadness or a lack of hope. This Christmas morning, commit yourself to doing some very concrete action by which you can bring them the light of Jesus Christ. In this way they too can experience the joy of Christmas.