In October, politicians and journalists reported that we were heading into a long, dark winter. With many people not following the safety protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, increasing hospitalizations, anticipating holiday travel, and large in-person gatherings, the end of 2020 looked grim. If that were the only news we heard, we could easily fall deeper into the darkness and add to the misery so many people experience. However, we have received Good News of great joy! Jesus Christ is born!
This long, dark winter is enlightened by the One who said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12). Our faith in Jesus, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, enables us to see the presence of God with us. With the light of faith, we can gaze in awe at the selfless sacrifices made by first responders and essential workers, and we understand how Christ is once again breaking into our world to save us. With the gentle light of faith, we see the small acts of kindness that brighten someone’s day as proof that the Word made flesh abides among us. With faith, we enjoy a few quiet moments of prayer each day, delighting in the mystery of the Incarnation.
Our faith in Jesus is expressed in deeds of charity. At the Mass at dawn for Christmas, the Church prays:
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, as we are bathed in the new radiance of your incarnate Word,
the light of faith, which illumines our minds, may also shine through in our deeds.
Because of our faith, we do not extend the long, dark winter, but we take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. We bring the same light of faith to heal the other ills of the world—violence, racism, greed, pride. The good news of which the angels sang when the Messiah was born 2000 years ago is still good news today. During the Christmas season, we can be heralds of glad tidings, walking with others to an encounter with Jesus, the Son of God Most High.
Just a few days ago, the planets Jupiter and Saturn appeared to nearly align, creating a “Christmas star” that was last widely visible 800 years ago. Although uncommon, some scientists said this phenomenon had no astronomical significance. Faith in Christ is different. The birth of Jesus has brought us light that conquers the darkness. May every day of our lives be enlightened by this radiant Light.
I wish a blessed Christmas to all our confreres, the young and all those associated with our Salesian presences, our families, and all members of the Salesian Family, our friends, and benefactors. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Fr. Tim Zak, SDB