Isaiah the prophet tells us that the people who once walked in darkness have now seen a wonderful light. Although these times in which we live may be challenging for all of us in different ways we can and should remain confident that the Lord Jesus Christ will lead and sustain us.
The economic situation of the last few years has indeed been difficult for many, and while in some cases we are beginning to see some recovery, the future is still uncertain for a lot of people.
We look at a world situation that begs for peace, but still finds that war and violence continue to have priority, especially in the Middle East where so many Christians and others have lost their homes, their families and even their lives.
The cry of the poor grows louder and louder, not only in terribly deprived countries, but even here in our own nation. Secularism, materialism and atheism have become major players in our society and many of the values we have held as Catholics are severely threatened.
People in various parts of our country are still recovering from terrible natural disasters: hurricane Sandy, wildfires, tornados and earthquakes, which will seriously challenge our celebration of this sacred season.
Our Church has become threatened by leaders in our own government, who are determined to define what is a religious activity and what is not and are actively seeking to force our Church to support and pay for what we believe to be against our consciences.
The concept of Christmas itself is constantly being attacked and attempts are rampant to reduce this great celebration of God’s love for the world to a simple secular holiday, rather than a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Darkness indeed!
But we are not defeated! The Light does shine in darkness and the darkness will never be able to put that light out.
We remember that Jesus has come; He has lived among us and has shared our human experience. Jesus who calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee will calm the storm in our lives. He lives among us now and He brings peace and tranquility, especially to those suffering. And He will come again in power and glory to forever conquer the darkness. Therefore, we must be a people not of despair, but of hope. Jesus is the “light of the world.”
Allow me to quote our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI: “If we are to be continually lighting candles of humanity, giving hope and joy to a dark world, we can only do so by lighting them from the light of God Incarnate … from the light of Christ we are to light the flame of a new humanity, caring for the persecuted, the poor, the little ones.”
In essence, we must care for each other; we must bring light to and be light for each other.
As we celebrate this season of Christmas, may you and your loved ones deeply experience the Father’s unconditional and abiding love.
May you find great joy living each day in the assurance that indeed, the darkness has not overcome the light, and it never will.
+Robert E. Guglielmone
Bishop of Charleston