Throughout Advent each week we have reflected on the readings from the Sunday mass using a combination of words to be our guide. In Week 1 we chose creation and awakening, Week 2 we considered consolation and beginning, Week 3 proclamation and prophecy and for Week 4 we reflected on continuity and annunciation. As we now celebrate the great feast of the incarnation we can truly sum up all of those thoughts and images that these last four week have evoked and meld them together to provide us with a true summation of what is what we believe our faith in Jesus Christ offers: Light and Hope.
We have over the last nine months lived through a terrible time. Our lives and the pattern of our living have been radically changed. People have suffered so many hardships from loss of job and livelihood to loss of loved ones and the probability is that even with the roll out of the vaccine, our present situation will remain for some time to come. Isolation and loneliness, depravation and hardship will not be easily overcome. How do we use this feast of the incarnation to bring light and hope into our lives and into the lives of those around us? It is not an easy question to answer and yet for our faith to have relevance and meaning in and for our communities, we must look to provide both the practical and the spiritual tools to enable people to carry and to ultimately overcome the burdens which so many are having to bear.
Light and hope may on the surface seem unlikely candidates for the task, and without applying them in a really active way, then yes I would agree. But we know that light and hope walk hand in hand when they are put to work. We know that light and hope when made to compliment each other, actually enhance the qualities that they both convey into something much more. Light and hope can be the two sides of a coin that when tossed always responds with something positive so that whichever way it falls we win. So our attitude to what lies ahead must be shaped by our taking hold of the light and enabling it to shine forwards in hope of the better future we pray for.
The Christmas story takes light and hope and fashions them into a message that truly resonates in these difficult days. Not in a fanciful or superficial way but by placing them into the very midst of our concerns and fears and in doing so it reveals an essential quality about ourselves as human beings. That in the depth of our hardship we have been provided with an assurance that each of us is personally loved, uniquely and individually and that the child in the manger is the personification of this love. It is this quintessential reality which shines forth from the crib and nestles in each of our hearts, to enkindle our hope so that we grow in love, to share it and to make it the motivation for what we do. It is in the person of Jesus Christ that this light and hope is made visible.
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God...a light that the darkness could not overcome...the Word was made flesh and lived among...full of grace and truth...from his fulness we have received love in return for love.
This love is our light and are hope. Let us start putting it to work.