On December 20, a policeman shot dead in broad-daylight a mother and her son. The mother was shot twice. The first was shot while she was embracing her to keep him from the policeman. The second was made when she already fell on the ground.
It was merciless. It was not just heartbreaking, but it was evil. The police officer without any emotion of fear and doubts, shot them dead in the presence of her daughter and of people.
This is an image of our world in darkness. Indeed, the world is not just darkened by the recent natural calamities, of typhoons and floods that affected millions of our brothers and sisters. The world is not just darkened by this long and tiring health and economic restrictions brought by our fear of covid-19 pandemic.
Our world and the hearts of others are also gloomed by anger, by hatred, by violence, by indifference, by evil. The world is also gloomed by the desire to have power, to gain control and manipulations, to be above others. the world is also gloomed by our dishonest and selfish leaders, by our unjust practices, by our hate speech, by our fanaticism, by our support of the corrupt, by our blind obedience of the violent.
The world may be darkened by our tragic experiences this year and gloomed by our individual and collective sins; the world may be darkened by our painful and sorrowful experiences and gloomed by indifference and violence perpetrated by many of us, directly and indirectly, God still choose to bring the light, to give us the grace and to grant us his salvation.
Tonight, this is what God wants to remind us. In the first reading the prophet proclaims the coming of the light because those of walked in darkness will see a great light and those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light will shine. Paul in his letter to Titus tells us, “God reveals his grace of salvation to all peoples.” God’s promise is fulfilled because God is granting us his salvation.
And in the prophecy of Isaiah, God will cast away the darkness and land of gloom. But what is this darkness and land of gloom?
It is our sin and guilt. It is our pain and sorrow. It is our difficult and overwhelming situation whatever they may be. Just look around. Darkness is around us. We may not be aware of it because we have become so used to it. However, God has come to us to bring light and salvation. Indeed, light is hope. It is God’s forgiveness. It is mercy. It is freedom. It is the fullness of life.
God, indeed, will destroy the yoke on our shoulders that burdened us. This is the yoke of slavery from sin and evil. God destroys them not by violence but through the gentleness of God’s own yoke of friendship, of companionship. Remember, Jesus has offered us to take his yoke.
God will also smash the rod of the taskmaster. This is the rod of our selfish desires. These shall be smashed by the Lord not through anger and hatred but through God’s gift of peace and mercy.
Isaiah tells us that a child is born to us, a son is given us. He is Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. The birth of this child tells us the situation of the world and of our hearts.
The child was born at midnight and it was dark. He was laid in a manger because there was NO ROOM in the inn. No one offered them a comfortable and respectable place where Mary could deliver her baby. Joseph could not even find a regular bed but found a manger. No one offered a place for the baby to rest.
And do we think that this was such a happy situation to witness? Do we not feel the indifference of the people around them? Do we not feel those cold hearts who did not care that a pregnant woman was about to deliver her first baby? Do we not feel these at all? Something must be wrong with us!
Those cold hearts and indifferent people who did not care at all, they remained in darkness and did not recognize that God was among them, that God was there. Their hearts must be so dark that even though it was God who has come near to them, yet, they could not offer him a room. This is an expression of the unwelcoming attitude of the darkness in us.
However, despite this rejection and indifference, God finds a way to let us know that He is with us. This light found its way in a “manger.” God was born and was laid in a manger – poor, humble and unadorned. Light, certainly, finds a way to illumine the world and our hearts. God, indeed, finds a way to give Himself to an unwelcoming world and unwelcoming heart.
And to whom did he proclaim his birth? TO THE SHEPHERDS! To the stateless, insignificant, nameless, unimportant, abandoned, unrecognized and poor shepherds of Bethlehem.
They were the first ones to receive the gift of light, the humble and the underprivileged. This is God’s statement that God is for the abandoned and for the forgotten, whose life have been darkened by those who were indifferent.
Though, Jesus was born about two thousand years ago, yet, he is reborn in us when we allow our dark guilt and sin to be accepted, confronted and forgiven; when we allow our painful and traumatic experiences become ways for us to discover hope and freedom; when we recognize that we need the Lord and his gift of salvation; when we stop being indifferent and begin to care and to show genuine concern; and when we are able to recognize that we are all brothers and sisters in need of love and mercy.
Christmas happens every day because God comes to visit us every day. Let his light dispel the darkness in us now. Let his peace dispel our fear now. Let his light cast away our selfishness and evil desires now. Let his peace cast away our anger and hatred now. Hinaut pa.