There is a deep beauty to these days of Christmas, with its images of a harried young couple searching for a space for their child to be born, a star shining over a humble stable in a field outside of Bethlehem, and the birth of a child that was witnessed only by some shepherds in the cold of night. It was a birth that happened in the dark, and that was missed by most. The Gospel of John speaks about the birth of this child as “the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5). It’s an image of Christ as light shining into a dark world. The world he was born into was dark: his people ruled harshly by the empire of Rome and longing for some kind of savior. In our own time, we know our own darkness: war; poverty; economic insecurity; a sense of a nation divided; and our own deep longing for God. The words from John’s gospel remind us that darkness is part of our world, and yet promise us as well that this child who is born in Bethlehem is not overcome by it, and is a light that shines for all people. Not always easy to see, or even believe – yet we come as people of faith to hear the words, remember the story, and in our own way, live it out in the world we have been given.
A special welcome this Christmas to those who are here for the first time, or who visit us from other faith communities. And on behalf of the friars, a thank you to the people of St. Francis for your presence here among us.
Blessings to all in the new year!