For the eleventh day of Christmas, here is something from Brother Geoffrey Tristram, superior of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE), an Episcopal religious community in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
We are here to celebrate Good News – wonderful, joyful good news – not make-believe or wishful thinking. The good news is this: that “the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn 1:5)
Yes there is darkness – God knows there is darkness – darkness and all sorts of sinful, hurtful and shameful things in all of us, and in our society, our world. But the good news is that when God looks closely at you he is not like the tabloid writer looking for scandal, for bad news. When God looks at you, he looks at you with the eyes of love, just as when you look at the person you love, you see how lovely they are – all that is beautiful and good about them.
And when the person we love: our spouse, our children, our partner, our brother – when they are in trouble, or mess up, or fail and exam, or lose a job, or do something stupid and wrong, we don’t point the finger at them, or condemn them, or tell everyone about it, like the newspapers. No, we love them even more, and we do everything in our power to help them because we love them. And when things go wrong, we love them even more.
And when God looks at you and me, and sees how silly we often are, how we mess up, how easily we fall and sin: how we hurt each other, and ourselves, how we damage our beautiful world, our environment; when God looks at his beloved children in Iraq, Afghanistan, shooting and burning and blowing each other up, when he sees his beloved children in this country hurting and damaging and destroying each other, he doesn’t condemn them and say, “You human beings are bad news. I wash my hands of you.” No! God loves us all the more. God so loves us that he sends his only Son Jesus Christ into the world at Christmas. But God didn’t send Jesus to us in order to look for the bad news about us. St. John writes in his Gospel, chapter three: “Indeed God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
God sent Jesus into the world at Christmas to share what it is to be human: to experience in his body the terrible, hurtful and sinful things that we can do to each other – and yet to carry on loving us, and forgiving us and redeeming us: restoring us to who we are meant to be.
And that is very good news. However dark life can be, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. However bad the bad news is, the good news is better, is stronger – the good news will triumph!