A CHRISTMAS MEDITATION
Father Dermot A. Lane.
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined”( Is.9: 2 )
We have all walked in darkness during the last 9 months because of the coronavirus. We have also experienced the
darkness that comes from fear, from uncertainty, and from anxiety of catching this deadly virus.
Many have lost loved ones, unable to say goodbye, prevented from having a full funeral service. It has been difficult
for everyone, and especially difficult for frontline healthcare workers: doctors and nurses. It has been difficult for people providing essential services such as the ambulance teams, postmen and women, the Guards, difficult for businesses, the hospitality sector, supermarkets, educators and difficult for those who have lost their job. And yet in spite of all this darkness, people have risen to the challenge of Covid in extra ordinary ways: watching out for neighbours, making sacrifices to ensure others do not become infected by the virus, conscientiously following government guidelines to keep the numbers of infection down.
We have all been shaken to the core by the coronavirus. We have discovered in a new way our own personal
vulnerability. We have become aware of the finite character of life itself and the fragile nature of the lives of others.
We have all in different ways collided with our own limitations. Some have lost faith and others have found faith. For those who have not been able to go to church to share in the Eucharist, some have found God in their gardens and local parks.
There has been a new awakening to the omnipresence of the God of nature in our world. We see this God of nature in the rhythm of life, death and rebirth, especially in the movement from winter to spring.
At Christmas we celebrate two key realities: Christ as the light of the world and Christ as the Word of God made flesh.
Concerning Christ as the light of the world, we are told that the light of Christ came into a dark world: “a light shines
in the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it” (Jn.1:5). The light of Christ continues to flicker in our world
surrounded by darkness and yet the darkness cannot quench that light. We find Christ in the light and in the darkness at one and the same time. It is that fascinating interplay of light and darkness that was celebrated last Monday in the Winter Solstice that takes place in Newgrange every year for the last 5000 years. It is not just a coincidence that Christmas is celebrated in the same week that the Winter Solstice is observed in Newgrange.
The second key insight that we celebrate at Christmas is that Christ is the Word of God made flesh: “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn.1:14) This means that when God decided to come among us, God came not in power, not in glory, not as pure spirit but rather immersed in the flesh of humanity, and in particular in the flesh of Mary of Nazareth, and thereby consecrating the flesh of all humanity, of all women and men. For us as Christians there is something sacred about the flesh of every human being. A Christian spirituality is always an embodied spirituality.
In this time of Covid we need to remember that the body is the dwelling place of God, no matter how bruised or broken or damaged we may be, the body remains a sacred reality.
As we face into a new year, we face the future with hope in our hearts, hope of course in the light of the new vaccines,
but also hope because the light of Christ continues to shine in our world and hope because the Word was made flesh and continues to dwell among us.
On behalf of Father Peter, Father Padraig, Father Emmet and myself, and also on behalf of the Parish Pastoral Council, I wish everyone a Happy Christmas and hopefully a better and brighter and safer New Year.