We wish all our readers a peaceful and joyful Christmas as we remember all your intentions in prayer.

The theme of light plays a prominent part in the Advent and Christmas liturgies. This theme of light is woven into the pages of both the Old and New Testaments – from the first chapter of Genesis where God said ‘Let there be light’ to the last chapter of the Apocalypse where the glory of God is the radiant light which illumines the New Jerusalem.

We have come forth from God and we return to Him who is the Light.  When calling us into being God seems to have built into each human heart a ‘homing instinct’; a nostalgia for Himself – a yearning which draws us.  We even see this attraction to the light in nature – tiny shoots will push their way through all kinds of rubble and even solid tarmac, attracted by the light.  Plants will turn towards the light and some flowers will open to light but remain closed in darkness. 

 In the Old Testament light is very often associated with God’s glory, His Presence, His face.  There is a yearning to see God’s face: “let me see your face” – “when can I enter and see the face of God” – “let your face shine on us and we will be safe.”  We get the image of a luminous face – a glorious face which lights up everything – the Light of life.

Moses was told that he cannot see God’s face for no human being can see Him and survive.  However, tonight we celebrate the breaking into our time of God’s light – the revelation of God’s Face in the form of a helpless baby who will grow and develop according to the laws of nature and will manifest the Face of God’s love to all who are open and ready to recognise and receive Him.  Tonight is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” The Word, who was in the world that had come into being through him, although the world did not recognise him, now enters this world in a new way.  Yet he comes in such a gentle and ordinary fashion that He is recognisable only to the eyes of faith – not all are open to receive the light but prefer the darkness.  St John tells us:

“He came to his own

and his own people did not accept him.
but to those who did accept  him
he gave power to become children of God.”  (Jn 1: 11 – 12).

We celebrate tonight the great mystery of the Word taking flesh and living among us – apart from his transfiguration, He will remain hidden in an ordinary Man and will identify himself with every man and woman – “whatever you do, or not do, to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you do, or not do to me.”  As he was dependent on Mary and Joseph when he first came – so now he makes himself dependent on us, his disciples – frail human beings that we are – to be His Presence in our world.  He needs our hearts to radiate his light and love, first of all to those with whom we live and then to all with whom we come in contact – what a great mystery and one of which we all too often are unaware.  As St Paul describes it well when he says “all of us with unveiled faces, like mirrors reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image that we reflect in brighter and brighter glory. (2Cor 3:18).

And so as we once again celebrate the birth of our Saviour at Bethlehem we ask Mary to help us believe as she did – may she teach us to recognise the radiant Face of her Son hidden in the ordinary and in every person we meet. 

“It is Your Face O Lord that we seek – Let your face, shine on us and we shall be safe.”