The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shown.
This light has dispelled our darkness, darkness and light cannot co-exist but it has not removed us completely from the land of Shadow. Christmas, the birth of our Saviour is not magic – we must still journey through this life with all its difficulties and suffering and doubts. We rejoice not because everything is better now – but because we now know that an end to suffering, to doubts and to sin is possible. We have been given hope. Any new child brings hope, always uncertain always a source of anxiety, but this child, Jesus brings to us, and makes known to us God’s gift of Grace, God’s love, God’s gift of himself, for this child is God and on this our hope is founded.
In this birth, says St Paul, God’s gift has been revealed and given; it has made salvation possible for the whole human race and taught us what we must do. We know that we must imitate the one whose birth we celebrate today – the one who will sacrifice himself for us. The one who shows us the way.
Our Christmas is a real celebration. It is not a flight from reality or a temporary respite from the world. It is the truest of festivals – it gazes at the world with open eyes, eyes that see sin and the terrible damage it does to the world and to us – and it says “rejoice, for the wood of the manger is the wood of the Cross. Rejoice for through the cross lies the road to life. Rejoice, this child born this night is born to die. Rejoice for with this child death becomes the gateway to heaven, in Christ a hope-less world receives hope.
The one whose birth we celebrate comes to us now in Holy Communion. He communicates to us a share in eternal life – we hope for heaven because in prayer, in love, through the Sacraments above all at Holy mass, Christ’s Mass, we have already tasted eternal life.
Like the Shepherds we must go back to our hillside, like Mary and Joseph back to our jobs and the care of our families, the Pandemic is still with us. Tomorrow there will still be evil and suffering and sin in the world. But we have Hope – the hope born this day – the hope who gives us strength to give up everything that does not lead to Christ, and all worldly ambition, to be self restrained and live good religious lives in this present world while we are waiting in Hope for the blessing that will come with the appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
This is why we rejoice. Because in the midst of a difficult world – we have been given hope – a hope founded on God – a hope that is God – a hope born on Christmas day – a hope who comes to us today and everyday in Holy Communion. Our Daily Bread.