Fr Leonard Dollentas
Its Christmas time and we might probably be asking ourselves how can we possibly be expected to be rejoicing in the midst of the COVID-19 global crisis? How can we rejoice when so much has been taken away from us, when Christmas parties are banned by the government in almost all parts of the world, when we cannot go around freely to enjoy the Christmas holidays because of the health risks? Indeed, this year will really be different from anything we have ever experienced before. But we realize at Christmas that the days are shorter, and this has something to tell us: at this time of more darkness, we can appreciate better how Jesus is the light in our world.
In John’s gospel, we find a wonderful solace: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5) Jesus Christ is the light in the world “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” a light that shines in the darkness, and regardless of how dark things are, the darkness will never overcome this light who is Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ at Christmas is seen as a light shining in the darkness. This is a reality that is not only significant every year but also a consoling thought forever.
True, in this pandemic time, we are living through a time of darkness. Things are more dreary. We are in the midst of anxiety where there is more stress and fear. But, the pandemic phenomena have brought us through the meaningful penitential aspect of the advent season – it showed us the grace to understand how Jesus Christ can be the light in our darkness. But we have to realize that the only way to overcome darkness is by bringing light in. Imagine yourself in a dark room. The moment you switch on the light, the darkness flees. Jesus is the light in our darkness each and every day, even before the pandemic, if we have the eyes to see. He has brought us unto the hope we are beginning to see in the vaccine that will be available soon.
Another reason or way we can rejoice is when we become light in other people’s darkness, when we too become light of the world because as Christians we are called to enlighten the darkness of other people. Last week, we brought our Colégio Diocesano de São José (CDSJ) kindergarten pupils to São Domingos Church to see the manger and to listen to the Christmas story. The last part of the story was a prayer. I prayed and the small children repeated each short phrase of the prayer – a simple prayer, thanking God for Jesus, for the parents, and for the teachers. Before the prayer was concluded with the usual sign of the cross, one small boy blurted for everyone to hear: “I pray also for you Father.” How sweet…and inspiring when these little children learn to be concerned for others, even with a simple prayer. I think that’s a beautiful image for who we are called to be as Christians in today’s gloomy and suffering world. Like Jesus, we are called to bring light into people’s darkness and we can do this at this time of the pandemic when people are living in a dark place, just by bringing cheer, kindness, comfort, hope and a simple prayer. We are living in a dark place but at the same time, we take hope and courage because Jesus Christ is the light of the world. He brings light into the darkness of our lives here and now and likewise we can go and bring light to others.