Some years ago, a friend of mine got me bacon jam for Christmas. It is not good. I used to think that everything is better with bacon. No more. Jam is not better with bacon.
That friend—he told me of how he once was in a science class and did an experiment. He took two pots and put seeds in both of them. He watered them the same. The only difference was that one pot he put in a fairly dark room and the other he put in a very well lit room.
You don’t have to be a botanist to speculate about what happened.
The seeds that were in the pot that went into the darkness did not grow so well. They did pop up, eventually, but they were brown, weak, dried out. They were rootless and fruitless. They were not what a plant is meant to be.
Now the seeds in the pot that was in the light—they grew up nice and tall, they were green and strong. They produced fruit, developed great roots. And they were beautiful—and precatively what a plant is meant to be.
My friends, we are like those plants. God built us in such a way that we need the light. We need the light to grow, to be fruitful, to be beautiful, to be what we were intended to be.
Today we celebrate that in Jesus, whose birth we celebrate today, we have the Light we need.
That is to say, we gather together this holy and silent night–one of the longest, darkest, and coldest nights of the year–to celebrate the birth, the entrance of Light into our world.
As our Scripture this evening attests, in Jesus, a “burning torch” entered a “forsaken” and “desolate” world, one that had been dimmed by sin and darkened by strife, one that had been a dreary landscape of pain and drudgery, loneliness and agony, sickness and death.
But then the Light came, and the Light made all the difference in the world. By the power and potency of that Light, the frozen were freed, the blind could see, and the sorrowing had reason to rejoice. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shone.”
My friends, Christmas is a great celebration! But let us pray with the Lord God tonight: after our presents are opened and cookies are eaten and the guests have gone home–how will we live more fully in the Light this coming year? What will we do to put ourselves into the presence of the Light?
The thing is, there is a temptation to try to fashion for ourselves something “better” then Jesus. Some folks in the scriptures went down that road. But then our fate is the same as that plant in the darkness—fruitless, rootless, unpleasant, weak.
Let us live this year in the Light whose birth we celebrate today at this Holy Mass.