BSM Blog: The Light is With Us

BSM Blog: The Light is With Us

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” John 1: 1-5

The opening of John’s Gospel, read at Mass on Christmas Day, calls us to realize that although we celebrate this moment in time of Jesus’ birth, the Cosmic Christ was, is, and will always be with God.

My students have been reflecting over the past few weeks about what it means to enter into the stillness of Advent. When I reflect on stillness, the images that come to mind are a dry stream that rapidly flows after a rain. An empty church before congregants arrive. Classroom space minutes before those first students walk through the door. A candle, yet to be lit, ready to give off its light. For me, stillness is balanced against busyness.

This liturgical season invites us into the stillness, but then thrusts us into the busyness. We spend weeks remembering the story of the Israelites in exile and anticipating the arrival of the Messiah. Then, very quickly after the event of Jesus’ birth, we hear the stories of martyrdom, flight into Egypt, and an appearance of kings.

My wife and I have begun a tradition of an Advent wreath with our 2-year old son. Every day before dinner, we turn off all the lights except the Christmas tree and whichever candles are lit for that week of Advent. We attempt to hold a moment of silence and stillness with the candlelight before singing the first verse of “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” As you can imagine, the silence maintained by a 2-year old isn’t exactly a Franciscan monastery. But, as I watch him watch the candlelight, I can see the wonderment and fascination with mystery that reminds me of my own childhood Christmases.

The scripture theme at BSM this year is “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5: 14,16). The Christmas readings ground us in the source of that light. The Incarnation serves to remind us year after year that through the stillness of Advent and the busyness of Christmas, hope is brought to those who are in exile, far from home; those who feel lost; those who are enslaved. Even those parts of us that feel hopeless, lost or afraid. Christmas reminds us that the Word is with us. The light is with us.

We become that light.

We are that light.

Darkness is not erased, but it can be pushed back. The busyness does not end, but we can find some stillness.

After the busyness is ended, after the gifts are unwrapped, after the decorations are put away, we are instilled with that light, shining from the mountaintop, unable to be hidden.