The Light of the World
In this beautiful homily for Midnight Mass for Christmas, Year C, Father Hanly looks at the coming of God’s light into the darkness of our world.
Readings for The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) – Mass During the Night, Year C
- First Reading: Isaiah 9:1-6
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 96:1-2, 2-3, 11-12, 13
- Second Reading: Titus 2:11-14
- Gospel: Luke 2:1-14
“I am the Light of the World. He who walks with me will never stumble in the darkness.”
Merry Christmas. And may the light of Christ shine upon you and your families. May he bring his peace on earth and joy to all the world.
December is the darkest month of the year. It’s a time when we appreciate the value of light. For Christians, Christmas means the coming of God’s light into the darkness of our world. This night is made radiant by the light of Christ, our Lord. Our songs and prayers, especially tonight, are filled with references to light and to the glory of God. Someone once described Christmas as a pool of light in the inky darkness of winter,
How dark the world would be if the light of Christ had never shone. The famous Russian writer Dostoevsky once wrote: “While we are on earth, we grope in the dark, and, but for the precious image of Christ, our Light before us, we would lose our way and completely perish.”
The teaching of Jesus was, and still is, truly a source of life to all who accept him. But it was above all through his deeds and encounters with everyday people in every circumstance of life, showering his love upon the world, that made his shining goodness most manifest. Countless people down through the ages have come to him in darkness and went away bathed in his light.
The light of Christ was not lit in Bethlehem once and then extinguished. Unlike the sun, Christ’s light knows no setting. It continues to shine for all who believe in him and follow him. The light of Christ is a persistent light and has the power to draw people to its shining. It shines in the midst of devastation, disaster and upheaval. The Gospel is persistent and defiant light, which no darkness can overpower.
Christ’s light comes as a friend. It brings healing, not hurt, freedom and not oppression, life and not death. He teaches us who we are and what our destiny is. We are children of God, destined for eternal life. And may the Lord in his goodness give us a taste of that joy which the Shepherds experienced when the light of God’s glory shone round about them on that first Christmas night.