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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: December 25, 2014
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily at Midnight Mass at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock on Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014.
Most little kids are afraid of the dark. Odd noises that go unnoticed during the day become frightening once the light is out. The house creaks and it sounds like there's something under the bed. One little night light has the power to banish this darkness and make them feel safe. Light is more powerful than darkness.
Two thousand years ago the Holy Land was a fearful place in which to live. Through Malachi God promised to send a Messiah to usher in a new age of freedom and joy, but now three more centuries had come and gone and they were worse off than ever: occupied by Rome and their economy in shambles, violence had become a way of life. They felt divided and powerless. Despair was the order of the day.
And then finally God intervened. A new star appeared in the night sky, light in the darkness, a baby born in a dark stable outside an obscure village in the middle of the night. As we read in John's Gospel: "The true light, which enlightens everyone, came into the world." At first only a few people could see that this new light was special: Mary, Joseph and a few shepherds, the Magi Gaspar, Balthazar and Melchior, Simeon and Anna in the Temple — maybe a dozen people in all ...?
Their light of love protected and nurtured our light of salvation, raised him, trained him, formed him in the quiet warmth of a humble home in Nazareth until that day 30 years later when his public ministry will begin and his light burst forth for all who have eyes to see.
Now obviously others saw the star and the innkeepers knew there was a woman out in the shed giving birth and even King Herod knew about it from the Magi but they were blind to what this birth meant. This was the turning point of all history and only a handful of people even noticed. Soon the shepherds and magi will go home never to be heard from again and the Holy Family will flee to Egypt, leaving the innkeepers and baby-killing Herod behind.
And for the next umpteen years this light of our salvation will be theirs to nurture alone, as best they know how. Mary and Joseph were amateurs, meaning most of the time they really didn't fully know what they were doing, but also meaning that they did it out of love: "amateur, ama" means love. Their light of love protected and nurtured our light of salvation, raised him, trained him, formed him in the quiet warmth of a humble home in Nazareth until that day 30 years later when his public ministry will begin and his light burst forth for all who have eyes to see.
For most of us today's feast of Christmas, this festival of light, carries with it warm memories not only from Jesus' childhood but also from our own childhood as well, and appropriately so because every child contains within a spark of that very same light that we celebrate in Jesus today. And like Mary and Joseph, you parents are charged with protecting and nurturing this light, this future hope, forming your children in the quiet warmth of your loving home.
And of course you're an amateur; that's the best part. Like Mary and Joseph, you do it out of love. So as we celebrate Christmas in this Church and in your homes, let us remember that no matter how fearful things get out there in our sometimes very dark world, the light of Christ is more powerful than any evil you or I will ever have to face. That new star that began to glow in the night sky 2,000 years ago continues to glow in the hearts of all who believe. "The true light, which enlightens everyone, has come into the world and All the ends of the Earth have seen the saving power of God!" (Psalms 98)