“In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace” (cf Luke 1:78-79).
This promise of the Holy Spirit is spoken through the father of John the Baptist, Zechariah, and this evening at the Christmas Vigil we begin to celebrate the fulfillment of those beautiful words.
God’s tender compassion has surrounded us and has been a part of us since before our conception. He knows the number of hairs on our head and he knows each one of us by name. Totally transcendent, infinite beyond our comprehension, beyond all space and time, yet God knows each one of his created beings intimately. He cares for us, guides us, and invites us to experience his joy and the fulfillment of who he has created us to be.
The ultimate love he expresses is that our relationship is based on our free will, our choice to say yes or no to the relationship with him he offers us. He gives us the freedom to choose anything but him. Some would say, he should just make us follow him. That would not be love, but oppression and tyranny. The light of God enters our being when we say yes to God’s will and invitation for relationship. It is then magnified by the light of his Son. We can recede back into the darkness or walk into his brilliant light to be empowered and transformed by his love for us.
When we accept the invitation to enter into a relationship and to follow God’s guidance we will better be able to see the darkness within ourselves that prohibits us from experiencing the fullness of the light that brings us his grace that builds on our nature as well as his peace. We need to choose to allow the light to dawn in every aspect of our being, our wounds, our prejudices, our defense mechanisms, our comfort, all those areas where we deny the truth or where we are supporting false realities or apparent goods.
May we prepare our hearts and minds as we celebrate the gift of the incarnation one more time. Let us resist withdrawing or running from and instead run to the “dawn from on high,” that shines on us, “who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,” so that God may “guide our feet into the way of peace.” The closer we are to God, the more we experience his peace, that peace that surpasses all understanding, and the more we can share his light and peace with others in this new year to come.
Photo: Taken last year while at home in CT. The sun rises and sets on all of us, just as the love of God’s Son radiates out to each of us.