“He was the true light that enlightens everyone coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” (Jn 1: 9-13)
Indeed, His coming is the coming of “joy to the world”; of true light and true power. But it is easy to forget, among all the Christmas carols, Christmas lights, and egg nog, that in Bethlehem Christ begins a path of poverty and ultimate rejection by “His own”; a path of the Cross. Already at His birth, He lacks the basic necessities, like a normal house, a nurse or two, proper lighting, or bathroom with running water.
I am reminded today that, while our culture of “Christmas” seems to speak of abundance; an abundance of family laughter and gifts galore, it won’t be that for many people. Just as it wasn’t that for the Child born in Bethlehem. Many of us won’t be able to afford the gifts our children wish for; and many of us might not have loved ones at all to share the feast with. In fact, the holiday may be a painful reminder of those we have lost, or those we never had in the first place.
Whatever the case may be for me this Christmas, I am reminded that my Lord is a Lord Who knows the worst-case scenario in this world. His “true light” comes on the path of the life-giving Cross, which He shared with us from day one of His divine-human life. As I prepare to receive Him, let me gratefully open up to His light and His power. It pours out abundantly on all of us, whether in poverty or wealth, in health or in sickness, among family or in loneliness. He is born to share all of it with us, giving us “power to become children of God,” – like the Child in a poorly-lit cave in Bethlehem.