by Sr. Esme da Cunha
Long, long ago, at the beginning of time, the world was shrouded in darkness.
Then came the splendour of light, bringing life and love into the Universe.
“Shrouded in darkness” – what a vivid description of the state of the world. A shroud is a piece of cloth used to wrap up a dead body. The world is thus depicted as dead or lifeless. (Gen. 1:2). Then comes the light, the Light, bringing life and love to this formless mass.
The theme of light and darkness runs right through the Bible. The Word of God itself, the Scriptures, can be seen as the Light that dispels the Darkness.
Foretelling the coming of the Saviour, Isaiah exclaims: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the
land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Is. 9:2)
We have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him (Mt.2:2), said the magi to Herod.
John builds up the prologue to his Gospel around this theme of Light and Darkness. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out. (Jn.1:5)
Then, on centre-stage, Jesus proclaims: I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness. (Jn.8:12)
The Book of Revelation was addressed to a persecuted Church. The disciple John encourages those faithful followers to keep up their faith in the One who is the True Light; not to allow themselves to be overwhelmed by the darkness. In the last chapter of this last book of the Bible we have these words: I am coming soon! … I am the first and the last, the beginning and the end! (Rev. 22: 12,13)
This is what Christmas is all about – the fulfilment of the messianic prophesies. That protracted moment when time merges with eternity. The moment for which all creation was groaning! God comes to His creatures in human form. And He comes to stay, to battle with us, against the powers of evil, sin, darkness and death. He comes as Victor, but as Warrior too.
The battle against darkness and death rages on. There seems to be no end in view. The darkness appears to be stronger than the light, most of the time … and yet!
What happened to the early Church? Those persecuted followers of Christ, crucified and Risen? They fled from the wrath of the Chief Priests, bearing with them the torch of the Gospel. They spread the Faith wherever they went … while the curtain of the Temple was ripped into two from top to bottom and the majestic Temple itself was destroyed by the lordly Romans just a few years after the death of Peter and Paul. Jesus had foretold that: Not a stone will remain on stone.(Mt. 24:2). That Temple has not been rebuilt to this day!
Those Christian martyrs in Rome, those hounded flickers of light, were surrounded, subdued, nearly snuffed out by the powerful Roman Empire. A few centuries later that powerful Empire crumbled down, but that feeble Church goes on.
Does this strike a bell with regard to our present state of affairs? The all-powerful, pitted against a straggling, struggling minority! In our own country, and in the world at large! The forces of darkness and … the triumph of the Light!
History repeats itself. Our world today is caught up, perhaps as never before, by the darkness of institutionalized violence, discrimination, elimination of the weaker, glorification of the oppressor. A world that wants to efface, de-face the Face of God.
But no one can snuff out that Light, even though it may sometimes seem like a dim light at the end of a long and endless tunnel.
The struggle against darkness strikes us as individuals too. How much darkness is there within us … and how much light? The rays of hope seem dimmed, extinguished …
This is the challenge for the world and for each of us today. To believe in the Light!
Our God who holds the world, His world, lovingly, in His ever creative Hands! Behold I make all things new. He does not despair of the condition of our world. For in Him there is no darkness.
So Christmas this year, is the assurance, the herald of this time of grace, when God stretches out His Hands to touch each of His beloved children. Jesus comes to heal our broken world, to dispel the darkness that still engulfs our hearts and minds.
No darkness is so thick, no sin is so sordid, no situation is so hopeless – that God’s grace cannot penetrate and dissolve it. Let us open ourselves to receive these floods of healing and wholeness. It is our God, our Father who beckons us and embraces us in His tender loving care.