The Gospel reading for this Sunday is from John 1:1-18. John’s writing assures us that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus has communicated divine life and all of us have received the right, through grace, to become children of God. It is light and life that Jesus brings to us from God.
This was my first Christmas without my mother as she died in September last. My sense of home is now different, her not being here uproots that reality of what home is now. The images of light and darkness is what strikes me in this gospel passage. These were very obvious to me this year due to this grief of the absence of a much loved person and, of course, the winter season that surrounds us in this part of the world was a further addition to the darkness. Yet we cannot have light without darkness, just as having loved someone deeply also means we feel the pain and loss of death. And the darkness of our season exposes the delight of the Christmas lights decorating our streets and houses.
A week ago, I made a point of visiting a cousin whose husband recently died and with others stood with her in a dark room as she grieved his absence. She shared how she held him in her heart and his love for her and hers for him is what she has still, and it will remain. This will be her light in the darkness. For as yet life is too difficult for her to recognise this fully – but she will. This is the hope that is promised to us: ‘The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.’ Jn 1:5
Pope Francis in his Christmas message reminded the listening ear of the darkness but also the hope given to us in Jesus when he said: “There is darkness in human hearts, yet the light of Christ is greater still. There is darkness in personal, family and social relationships, but the light of Christ is greater. There is darkness in economic, geopolitical and ecological conflicts, yet greater still is the light of Christ”.
And while the light may be extinguished in the obvious and visible places, a deeper light flickers, as this is the gift of grace from our faith in Jesus. This is the light that overcomes the darkness: ‘From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another’. Jn 1:16
In the first reading we read how from eternity, in the beginning, God created wisdom, and for eternity wisdom shall remain. Jesus, who knew suffering and darkness is that wisdom, that beauty, that hope, that light, is the Son of God.
“May Emmanuel bring light to all the suffering members of our human family. May he soften our often stony and self-centred hearts and make them channels of his love”. (Pope Francis’ Christmas message, 2019)
Sr. Edel Murphy OP