When the nights are long and darkness lays heavy on the earth, we celebrate the coming of the light. The season of Christmas is a season of light, hope and joy. The darkness cannot overcome the light of the newborn King who is the Christ, the Son of God, the Eternal Word-Made-Flesh. Jesus, the one who is sent into the world by God the Father to be the savior of humankind, is the manifestation or showing of the Father’s mercy and love. The mystery of the Incarnation is revealed in the Nativity of the Christ child. God sends his Son into the world, born of a virgin, to accomplish his will of salvation. The Eternal Word of God comes down from heaven and takes on human flesh so that he might manifest the love and mercy of the Father. Jesus is an epiphany of the divine dwelling in human flesh, a showing of the Eternal Life that lights up human existence and prepares us to be heirs to Eternal Life and partakers in the divine nature as beloved children of God. In the light that shines forth from the cradle of light in which lay the Christ child, we can see the truth of who we are meant to be as children of God and children of light. Our lives are meant to be a showing of light. We are created to be glorious and to one day dwell in the eternal glory of the Father. As St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.” Jesus was born into the world that we might share in the fullness of life, a pure light of life that is undimmed by the dark shadow of death. Jesus makes the glory of God visible in human flesh in the hope that one day all of God’s children will be revealed in glory.
We struggle with this truth that we are destined for glory. We don’t see humanity as glorious creatures. Most of us do not see ourselves as capable of greatness, as something more than we are right now. We sell ourselves short and settle for mediocrity, just hoping that perhaps we can be “good enough”. Our sinful nature obscures the possibility of a greater glory hidden inside us. We resist conversion and transformation in our lives and a rebirth in the Spirit. Left to ourselves we would never discover who we truly are and what we can become. The only voice that we would listen to would be the voice of the accuser who night and day accuses us before God. God does not leave us alone. God sends his Son as a gift and grace of light and truth. He is the Emmanuel, the God-With-Us, who walks with us and gives us the power to become the children of God. He will not leave us until his Word has accomplished the Father’s purpose. God speaks through Isaiah: “So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will.” (Is 55,11) Jesus will accomplish the will of the Father that all his beloved children be saved.
The Baptism of the Lord is a mystery of light. The baptism of Jesus is more than a baptism of repentance and conversion for the forgiveness of sin, it is an anointing from above in which we are revealed as the beloved children of God. John baptized in water but Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit. In the Baptism of the Lord the heavens are torn open and the Spirit descends upon Jesus, and a voice comes from the heavens and testifies: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” In our own baptism, we are baptized in water and Spirit and reborn from above. We are revealed to be the children of God, children of light, and heirs to Eternal Life. Too often we listen to people in the world who try to tell us who we are and what we can and cannot do with our lives. Seldom do these voices know the truth of our real being and purpose. As St. John says in his letter to the Church: “If we accept human testimony, the testimony of God is surely greater. Now the testimony of God is this, that he has testified on behalf of his Son.” (1Jn 5,8f) The Spirit of God is our eternal advocate who will testify to the truth that we are the beloved children of God.
St. Paul reveals to the Romans: “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, Abba, “Father!” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom 8,14-17) Hear the voice of the Father testifying for you and claiming you as his own. You are a beloved child of God in whom God is well pleased. That is a powerful light that will surely lead you home.