Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.
This message of Isaiah, one of Israel’s greatest prophets, was first proclaimed more than 28 centuries ago. It is a message that will be heard in Churches throughout the world as people gather at Mass on Christmas night. It is a message that was fulfilled when, St. Luke tells us, an angel appeared to shepherds “keeping the night watch over their flock … and the glory of the Lord shone around them.” It was on that holy night that the glorious Light of Christ shone upon a land of gloom and a Savior who is Christ and Lord was born for us.
As we gather at Mass this Christmas to give glory and praise to God, we joyfully celebrate the love of God who took on our human flesh and shone before us on that first Christmas night. We look to the Light of Christ that continues to shine in places of darkness and hopelessness, sin and suffering, hatred and violence. We look to the light of Christ who comes to us today in Word and Sacrament just as surely as he came on that first Christmas to Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the magi.
For us who live in the northern hemisphere, it is very apparent how the night’s darkness has become longer and longer. This is also, however, the time of the winter solstice when things are going to be reversed and daylight is going to increase more and more. As Christians, may we see what is taking place in the physical world around us, as a metaphor for the Light of Christ entering into this world. May it be a light that shines ever more radiantly tomorrow than it does today. Let us say “yes” to the radiance and splendor of the Light of Christ.
Pope Benedict XVI reflected in his 2007 Christmas Message upon Christ the Light. His closing prayer is my prayer for you and your loved ones:
[May the Light of the Child Jesus] dispel all darkness from your lives
and fill you with love and peace.
May the Lord, who has made his merciful face shine in Christ, fill you with his happiness
and make you messengers of his goodness.
May you have a Blessed and Joyful Christmas filled with the Light of Christ.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Bishop of Wilmington