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The light that dawns

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Christ is our light. What we seek is not a pinpoint of brightness shining from the far corner of another galaxy. The ancient Magi followed the star, but it led them to the stable.

Jaymie Stuart
Wolfe

I love midnight Mass. When the kids were young, we used to lay out our Christmas clothes and go to bed around 9 p.m., then set an alarm for 11 p.m. It wasn't always easy to rub the drowsiness from little eyes -- or from our own -- but eventually, excitement would take over. We'd pile into the full-sized van and drive to midnight Mass, determined not to miss a minute of the day it seemed the whole world had been waiting for.

Now, there are no little ones at home, and Santa's flying reindeer don't seem quite as magical as they used to. But there's still something wonderful about taking a spiritual trip to Bethlehem in the middle of the night -- perhaps even more so in this year of darkness, loneliness, and fear.

One of the prayers that has stood out to me this Advent is repeated throughout the season in the Liturgy of the Hours: "Your light will come, Jerusalem. The Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty."

I think of how Christians have prayed those words around the world and across the cascading centuries. We have come to God with hope, even from the deepest pit of human darkness; the terror of famines and plagues, the brutality of nameless wars, the devastation of natural disasters that prompted people to ask if the end of the world was near.

"Your light will come, Jerusalem. The Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty."

It's ironic that God is closest to us when it feels like he is furthest away. That is the mystery of the manger. Christ comes in darkness as the light we cannot see. He comes in secret, where we do not expect to find him. He comes hidden in poverty, obscured by the long shadows cast by human expectations. Yet, he comes -- Emmanuel.

"Your light will come, Jerusalem. The Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty."

Christ is our light. What we seek is not a pinpoint of brightness shining from the far corner of another galaxy. The ancient Magi followed the star, but it led them to the stable. They looked to the heavens only to discover that the king of heaven had come down to earth. The savior we long for isn't something beyond us; Christ is among us, one with us -- even one of us.

"Your light will come, Jerusalem. The Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty."

God will not leave us in the dark. He is coming not just to the whole world or to someone better or richer or more deserving than we are. He is coming to us. He is coming to make us as radiant and beautiful as he intended and created us to be. We cannot shine on our own. Our radiance is found only in the light of his love.

"Your light will come, Jerusalem. The Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty."

The night will end, for dawn will come. That doesn't mean that all darkness will disappear. The shadows we do not surrender, the darkness we do not expose will remain, at least until the dawn grows into midday. But we can choose to greet the dawn, to awaken, to throw open the drapes, to meet the fresh mercies of each new day.

That is what Christmas is: The new day par excellence. Christmas is the gift of a fresh start. It is the beginning of God's new creation, his life that never dies, and his light that never dims. No matter how dark it gets, no matter how hopeless things may seem, Christmas is God's irrevocable assurance to us that light will come and that when it does, all around us and all within us will shine with his radiance and beauty. Merry Christmas.

- Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and serves as a senior editor at Ave Maria Press. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.



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