December 29, 2016
by Roland Coelho, S.J.
Creighton University's Graduate School
click here for photo and information about the writer

The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
Lectionary: 202

1 John 2:3-11
Psalms 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 5b-6
Luke 2:22-35

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The first reading reminds me of an incident that happened in the Jesuit school I worked in, in India. It was the season of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Two elementary school boys were talking loudly during recess, while munching on snacks. One of them boasted, “My dad bought a lot of expensive patakas (fireworks) and we decorated our whole house with diyas (little clay lamps with cotton wicks dipped in oil).” Without missing a beat, the other boy shot right back, “Diwali is not about the outside light, but about our inner light!” Diwali is indeed the celebration of light (of God) over darkness (ignorance and evil).

John, the author of the first reading, would have admired this young boy. He reminds us of the inner light that guides us on our journey to God. John argues in the first reading that if we say we know Christ but do not keep his commandments, then we are liars. Just because we celebrate Christmas or attend the midnight Mass on Christmas eve, does that mean we know and love Jesus? He invites us to keep Christ’s word by living as Christ lived.

John continues: If we think we are in the light but are jealous or hate our sister or brother, we are still in darkness. Such darkness blinds us and we fall. Such is contradictory to a life of love and light. Jesus’ commandment of fraternal love, however, is the inner light that empowers us to overcome the darkness of evil we experience in our daily lives. If we can connect with the light of Christ, we can experience God’s grace and allow Christ’s love and light to shine in and through us.

In his book The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran helps us reflect on this inner light:

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.
When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart,"
But rather, "I am in the heart of God."
And think not you can direct the course of love,
for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

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