Friday, December 29, 2017

The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

(I John 2:3-11; Luke 2:22-35)

One of America’s favorite movies is all about Christmas.  The movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” ends with a Christmas scene, but that is almost incidental to its Christmas theme.  More importantly, the movie relates the message of this season.  It reiterates what today’s gospel and certainly the works under the title of “John” teach so clearly.  The Word of God came as light in darkness, as good in the midst of evil.  The darkness tried its best to quench the light, but it was finally chased away.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” tells the story of George Bailey who from childhood cared about others.  Things go well for George through early adulthood.  Then the forces of darkness attack.  They leave George completely disillusioned.  He wants to kill himself and is saved only with help from on high.  George is like us at our best.  We want to do good, but darkness – usually, in our cases, selfishness – blinds our good intentions.  We turn inward thinking exclusively about what seems good for us.  We reject relying on God and continuing to care about others.

Today’s first reading assures us that the light has indeed come to the world.  The gospel passage names Jesus as that light which dispels the darkness.  If he is to defeat the darkness that surrounds us – our selfishness -- we must stay close to him.  We do this by following his commands which are simple and not burdensome.  We must love God above all and love our neighbor like we love ourselves.