Sunday, December 25, 2011


The Nativity Of The Lord: Mass During the Night
Children’s Pageant Mass
Reaching The Light Switch

Readings: Isaiah 9:1-7; Psalm 95:1-3,11-13; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14 (Children’s Lectionary)
Picture: cc Chris&Rhiannon

Sisters and brothers, grownups and children, are you afraid of the dark? There once was a little girl named Cindy. Cindy was only two years old, and she was terribly afraid of the dark. One afternoon, the grownups in her family were very busy, and they left Cindy in a room with her baby brother, who was fast asleep. At first, Cindy was happy just to play with her toys. Then evening came, and the room began to get very dark. Cindy was afraid. But she could not switch on the lights, because she was too short. There was no one else in the room except her baby brother. But he was no use, since he was also too short to reach the switch. Cindy was so frightened that she started to cry. Thankfully, someone finally heard her crying, came into the room, and switched on the lights for her.

What we learn from Mary’s story is that if you are stuck in a dark room, and you’re too short to turn on the lights yourself, then you need someone who can help you. Someone taller than you. Someone who can reach the switch for you. And this is precisely what we are celebrating on this joyous Christmas night. As our first reading tells us: Those who walked in the dark have seen a bright light. Tonight we celebrate the coming of Jesus. He is our bright light. He is the One who is able to reach the switch that we are unable to reach.

But there is something very strange going on here, isn’t there? This Jesus, whom we are celebrating, this rescuer, who is supposed to turn on the light for us, comes to us as a little baby. Can a baby reach the light switch that we ourselves cannot reach? How can a baby rescue us? How can a baby light up our darkness? This is the question that we need to think more deeply about in order to enter into the joy of Christmas. And, to do this, we need to recognize that there are different kinds of darkness. Just as there are different types of light switches.

At the time when Jesus was born, as our gospel tells us, the people were ruled by an emperor named Augustus. Now, as you know, the people were Jews. But Augustus was a Roman. How did a Roman become king of the Jews? Only by beating them in battle. So that, when Jesus was born, the people were living in a kind of darkness. It was the darkness of defeat. And they saw only one way out. They needed someone who was strong enough to drive out the Romans. But, of course, a baby cannot do that. A baby cannot even feed itself. How can it defeat an army? Isn’t this why, when it was time for Jesus to be born, there was no room for him in the inn? Most of the people paid no attention to him because they just did not think that the baby Jesus could be the one to rescue them from the darkness of Roman rule.

And what about us? Perhaps, as we come here tonight, we too may be feeling like we are stuck in a dark room of some sort. Where the light switch is beyond our reach. Some of us may be stuck in the darkness of illness or old age, of family problems or work stress. And perhaps we too may have our doubts about whether a helpless little baby can really help to switch on the lights in our darkness.

Which is why it is important for us to consider how the baby Jesus is able to save us. It is important for us to realize that there is more than one type of darkness in our readings today. In addition to the darkness of being ruled by a foreign king, the people in our readings are also stuck in the darkness of selfishness. Why else is there no room at the inn for Jesus, Mary and Joseph? Why else did the King of Kings have to be born in a dirty stable? People were focused only on their own needs. Caught up in their own concerns. No time to pay attention to the stranger and to the homeless. And, of course, with selfishness, there often also comes loneliness.

It is to brighten this darkness of selfishness and loneliness that the baby Jesus is born. And he can do this because of who he is. We believe that although Jesus is truly a human baby, he is also more. This Jesus is also God. The same God who made the whole universe out of nothing. The same powerful God, who out of his great love and mercy for us, has become a powerless little baby. As the second reading tells us: He saved us because of his mercy, and not because of any good things that we have done.

It is when we keep looking at this helpless little baby lying in a manger–not just on this Christmas night, but throughout the days of this Christmas Season, all the way till January the 8th–that we will be able to feel the light shine out. The light of God’s love and mercy for us. The light that reassures us that God is on our side, that God cares for us. The light that then moves us to care for others. The baby Jesus is able to reach the switch to this light, because the switch is not really something that is very far from us, something too high for us to reach. No, this switch is really buried deep within our hearts. And it takes this precious little baby, who is both human and divine, both powerless and almighty, to reach into our hearts to turn on the light for us.

The question we need to ask ourselves is: How willing am I to allow the baby Jesus to reach my light-switch today?

2 comments:

  1. I am not perfect as at times, I still gets impatient and agitated by people's sloppiness and self-centredness. I couldn't help wondering why can't they have more initiation to do things for their surrounding people or even their loved ones?? Why must they only think of themselves and not care about the other people?? Why must they keep on bearing grudges and turning the whole world upside down?

    Back to the question, "How willing am I to allow the baby Jesus to reach my light-switch today?". As we were being taught, the fruit to authenticity is "Forgiveness". If I opened our heart and mind, and be willing to forgive those people who have irritated me, then I am sure, Baby Jesus will be able to reach out the light swtich in me. It is always easier said than done, at this stage, I am still learning to open up the door so that Baby Jesus can come in.

    I am sure, it won't be long.

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  2. The metaphor of the infant Jesus born into abject conditions is a grim reminder that we often throw out the baby with the bathwater, as events do change ever so imperceptibly. This happens when the Christmas season is over and we switch back to our old selves.
    Unless we remain plugged in, we stand the risk of wandering in search of non essentials, alluring things without illumination that darken our judgment. We are part of this coterie of consumers, seeking and exploring for earthly distractions, generating sound and fury, signifying nothing.
    To re-member is to be a part of a larger community of believers where we constantly seek to remind each other that God is ever present in the circumstances of life. Advent is such a time to re-focus.

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