Into our darkness comes a light brighter than we can withstand. The light shows us our inabilities to do what makes for wholeness and peace in every realm of our lives: social, economic, political, spiritual, psychological, and environmental. We are lost without the light.
In Christ, God confronts us with the veil that shrouds our vision, simultaneously sending us a savior whose death rent the curtain, tore open the heavens, broke all the rules of death, raised up out of ultimate darkness a new world, a new hope.
On this day of all days, we preachers must give this miracle its due.
Preach the true gospel: the darkness does not put out the light. God’s own body comes into our presence daily to mend our ways and our broken hearts and to fill our lives, instead, with joy.
The opening of John's gospel is not a birth narrative, but a proclamation of the preexistence of the Word (Logos), which was with God from “the beginning.” There is a deliberate echo of the opening of Genesis. John then brings in themes of light, darkness, grace, and truth that will serve as threads throughout the gospel. He will also make the contrast between those who do not know Jesus and those who believe in him. Particularly significant is John's statement that “the Word…lived among us.” The literal translation is “pitched his tent” and suggests the presence of Yahweh among the Israelites after they received the covenant (Exodus 40). – Mary Katharine Deeley
Isaiah 40–55 deals with the aftermath of the Babylonian exile. From its opening shout of “Comfort, comfort ye my people” (40:1), the unifying theme seems to be restoration and peace. Throughout the chapters, there are echoes of the “new thing” that God is doing and how God is bringing Israel back to the land and to a new era of prosperity. In Chapter 52, the theme of peace is echoed as the one who preaches announces, “Your God is King.”
The message of comfort, redemption and salvation extends not only to Jerusalem, but also to the whole earth. A key to the passage lies in the implication that peace comes only when we recognize and accept that God is sovereign over all. – Mary Katharine Deeley
While attached to the letters of Paul from the early second century, the Epistle to the Hebrews has no named author and the identity of its audience and type of writing have long been argued. Nevertheless, its beautiful poetry, noble language and message of encouragement (Hebrews 13:22, e.g.) make it a suitable choice for the Christmas liturgy.
The opening text (vv 1–4) introduces the culmination of God's revelation—[the] Son, Jesus—and places him at the right hand of God, a place of authority above even the angels. The rest of the chapter (vv 5–12) unpacks the meaning of the first four verses. . . Take careful note of verses 8–12 in which the appellation “God,” once reserved exclusively for Yahweh, the Father, is now redirected toward the Jesus, the Son. – Mary Katharine Deeley
To all of our faithful readers: Joyous Christmas!
Mary Katharine Deeley is the director of Christ the Teacher Institute of the Sheil Catholic Center at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, the author of many books, a frequent speaker on diverse topics, and a pastoral advisor.
Homily Service 41, no. 1 (2007): 53-66.