The Light of the World
Inevitably at some point in the busyness of planning for Christmas, we should find ourselves asking “What does Christmas really mean?” We know it is more than exchanging gifts and getting lost in the beauty of a winter night brightened by Christmas lights and decorations.
On this holy day of Christmas and at every Mass, we encounter the living Jesus Christ – the first and most perfect Christmas gift – who “is the fullness of all revelation” (Dei Verbum, 2). To know Jesus is to know the Father (cf. John 14:9); to know Christ is to live in the Holy Spirit. All that God reveals to us is Jesus, all that God wills for us shines forth in his life and in his words.
Jesus is the Light of the world; he is “Light from Light, true God from true God.” The life of Jesus is “the light of the human race” – his “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5).
What the Church offers at Christmas is an opportunity to know God in Christ and in that light to know ourselves as God sees us. All that God wants for us shines forth in Jesus. Listening to the Lord in the readings at Mass, in the homily, and receiving Christ in the Eucharist “brings to light things hidden in darkness and makes plain the secrets of the heart,” as Saint Paul said (1 Corinthians 4:5).
In Jesus, God desired to experience personally and immediately all our trials and to redeem us by suffering death for us. In coming to know our Savior better, he in turn will help us know ourselves better. As Saint John Paul II explained, “The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly – and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superficial, and even illusory standards and measures of his being – he must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ” (Redemptor Hominis, 10).
We draw near to Christ most fully in Holy Communion, by receiving his gift of himself at Mass. Moreover, through words that speak truly of him and of his Gospel, through sacraments that make his saving power present, by lives that do his work on earth, the Catholic Church teaches the whole message of Christ.
This Christmas, if you wish to give someone the perfect gift – the gift of Jesus Christ – one way is to invite them to join you at Mass. At our archdiocesan website, there is even an invitation you can use.