The Light in the Darkness…
Here we are at a dark time – I don’t mean today – I mean about 4-6 BC in Judea (now Israel). It is occupied by the Romans, a first-ever census has been ordered requiring all to return to their ancestral homes (What about my job? No work, no income…), and Joseph is taking a 70-mile trek with his ‘nine-month pregnant Virgin fiancé’ home to Bethlehem (His family must be thrilled…) so that they can be taxed to support the Roman Empire (Paying taxes to “the government” and we get what?...). After they arrive, Mary’s time comes due and instead of a bed at an inn where they could expect some delivery assistance, the inn was full and no one was willing to give up their bed, even for an expecting mother in labor (OK… times may be hard but this is abysmally apathetic…). They were directed to a stable where there was at best some warmth, water, and a straw bed for the newborn child (Oh great – under the Roman Poll Tax, there are now 3 in the family to pay taxes on…). And on this auspicious occasion – a heavenly host comes down to make the grand announcement to – a handful of shepherds, watching sheep, in the dead of night (Talk about a spectacular “reveal”).
Dark times… And yet – this is the very culmination of God’s promise, a carefully orchestrated reveal of a new covenant with not just God’s “Chosen People,” the Jews, but ALL people… Isaiah foretold the Messiah would be born in the “City of David” (Isa 11:1), and Micah the same in “Bethlehem” (Mic 5:2). Joseph and Mary are both direct descendants of David, who go to Bethlehem to be taxed at the order of a ruler, Caesar Augustus, who acts unknowingly at God’s direction (Dan 2:21). Jesus’ humble emergence into the world is as common as it gets; his birth announcement to the shepherds is also as humble as it gets – which shouts “for ALL people.”
As in the beginning (Genesis 1:3), God brings light to a world of darkness and chaos. Jesus is the immaculate conception, the second perfect human creation since Adam. He leads an immaculate life, endures an innocent death, and rises from death sinless, fulfilling all prophesies and promises of God through the ages. His arrival is the dawning of our LIGHTED path to heaven, through Him, and it is announced to the commoners, and to those who were actively, anxiously seeking him.
So where is the LIGHT to be found today? I spent almost two months looking for where “I see light” since getting this assignment, as if I was in darkness looking for the shining example to draw from. Granted it’s a relative dimmer set of days to be looking for it – COVID isolation, but the whole family working “intimately” from home; ugly news all around; pervasive social turmoil; all masked up when out publicly; winter daylight hours… Each time I thought I might have struck upon the answer, I found that expressing it rang hollow and insincere… And then finally, it dawned on me. I was “looking for light” in the wrong places. Finding light from others was the wrong perspective. God, through His Son, put His light in me. I am to be the light. The light I see around me should not be something I absorb, but be a reflection of the light I show to those around me. Light is in the actions I take that show kindness, compassion, respect, enthusiasm – LOVE – for those around me. It is Jesus’ only commandment to us, to me, that we love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s not about looking for light, it’s being the LIGHT to those around us.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, as you have given us a lighted path to Glory through the gift of your Son, Jesus, may we also serve as caring, compassionate, loving servants to you. Let us shine our own light to those around us, so that we may be examples of how you would have us live, in whom you will be well pleased. Amen.”