In the Book of the Prophet Isaiah we hear: The people who walked in darkness
will see a great light; those who dwell in a land of deep darkness, on them
a light will shine.
Lights do not often appear very bright when we see them shining in broad daylight;
but at night, in the darkness, especially when it is our own darkness, we
can sometimes see them shining for miles.
Now in each one of the Christmas gospels, we hear a story directed to a particular
people who were living in their own particular darkness.
For Matthew, it was the darkness of the Jewish people who needed light to
recognize Jesus as their long promised Messiah. So Matthew’s Christmas
story tells of the birth of Jesus where he shines like a new Moses coming
out of Egypt.
John’s Christmas story is directed to the Greeks, who needed Christ’s
light to outshine the wisdom of their own great philosophers. So his story
tells of Jesus being God’s very own Wisdom & Light, a Light that
was shining long before the world ever began.
In this year’s Christmas gospel, we hear Luke tell the Christmas story.
He is writing primarily to the people living in the darkness that was the
Roman Empire. It was a neat place to be if you were rich and powerful; but
it was the not pleasant if you were poor and living on the bottom like most
of its people were. Luke’s Christmas story is telling the people that
Jesus’ birth is not made with a royal proclamation read by a Roman soldier
from the steps of the local town square; but instead it comes from a whole
army of angels high up in the sky, delivered to a group of poor shepherds
working out in the fields.
In Luke’s day, shepherds were not thought of too highly. The shepherds
were considered to be a real not respected working class group, just a step
or two above thieves and bandits. But Luke wants his readers to know that
the Good News of Jesus’ birth did not first come trumpeted to the rich
or to the powerful. God announced it to the poor and to the powerless, His
word came first to the people living life on the bottom.
Each gospel writer is writing to a particular community, a community that
had its own darkness and its own set of doubts. Each community is asking these
“What does this Jesus have to do with me? What is it that makes him
out to be my Savior?”
To the Jew, Matthew’s Christmas story says: Jesus is the long-promised
Messiah for which our people have been waiting.
To the Greeks, John’s story says: Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega.
He is the beginning and the end; he is the Word and the Wisdom of God who
always was and always will be.
To the poor and to the downtrodden; the shepherds and the outcasts, to all
the ones living outdoors and living without hope: Luke says: “He is
the Good Shepherd. He has come in search of the sheep who are lost and he
will not rest until he is found them and brought all of them back to his Father
safe and sound.
Each one of us probably heard these Christmas stories read to us since we
were children. Jesus came for each and everyone of us in our ordinariness.
He came to call us to himself in his humility. Jesus is the answer to the
true desires for which our souls yearn. He is with always and comes to us
to the present day in regal, yet simple ways to bring us salvation.
Are we in need of the Jesus which the gospel writers presents to us? Yes,
we are in need of a savior to bring us light in the darkness of our day! Jesus
is the light of the world who came to bring salvation to you and me!
May the blessings of this Christmas season fill your heart and lead you closer
to our True King!
+Martin de Porres
Most Reverend Martin de Porres Griffin