We usually say that darkness is very deceptive because it is able to camouflage the real appearance of things. Beauty is easily simulated through a play of light and darkness. This is why we should never make definitive conclusions unless we see things in the morning light. It is at day time when the truth appears – with all its imperfections being exposed in the light.
The birth of our Lord, as we said last night, took place under the cover of darkness…in the secrecy of the night. Of course, the angels bathed the night sky with light but it is really under the light of day that we shall truly appreciate what appeared on earth last night. The prophet Isaiah spoke last night about the child born to us. He is called “Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, and Prince of Peace.” But under the morning light, far from revealing imperfections that darkness could hide, the mystery becomes even more resplendent for the Divinity of the Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes is made manifest: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” This is the Son “whom (God) made heir of all things, and through whom he created the universe; who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word.” This is the Son “who took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, as far superior to the angels, as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”
It is true that we see a lowly babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying on a manger. But the light of faith makes us see underneath the surface. Faith allows us to see beyond what mortal eyes behold. It is this light of faith that enables us to see his glory, “the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” Yes, his glory is full of grace. He is able to make us “holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.” His glory is full of truth. There is no deception in him. He is worthy of our faith and trust. Our mortal eyes may behold the limitations of his human flesh. But his glory which is full of truth is even more reliable than what we can see and measure. His is the “Light that shines through the darkness.” His is the “true Light which enlightens everyone.”
Our faith is illumined by his Light. Thus, although we may walk through very dark and trying times, faith allows us to walk from glory to glory for before the Light of Christ, even the dark turns to light. “His Light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not overcome it.” The principalities of the air and water may have their way of ruining our Christmas by timing calamities close to it. But faith that allows us to see in the dark pushes us forward as we, by our lives, allow Christ to illumine the world. (I saw from the news that the survivors in Iligan and CDO ate sardines for noche buena. Some see sadness and misery here but I see faith. Isipin mo, mawalan na ng lahat pero they still celebrated Christmas in the way they could afford! If this is not faith, I don’t know what is.) Like John the Baptist, we testify to the Light so that all may believe in him. We received the Light so that we can give light. “Christians are called to radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us.” (Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei, 9). Christ is greater than even the angels. His light is greater than the darkest night. It is not faith in ourselves that will raise and sustain us. It is our faith in Jesus that will do this. Faith in Jesus will help us walk through the darkness. “Belief in Jesus Christ is the way to arrive definitively at salvation.” (PF, 3.)
We ought to get back the dimension of the sacred in the liturgy. The liturgy is not a festivity; it is not a meeting for the purpose of having a good time. It is of no importance that the parish priest has cudgeled his brains to come up with suggestive ideas or imaginative novelties. The liturgy is what makes the Thrice-Holy God present amongst us; it is the burning bush; it is the Alliance of God with man in Jesus Christ, who has died and risen again. The grandeur of the liturgy does not rest upon the fact that it offers an interesting entertainment, but in rendering tangible the Totally Other, whom we are not capable of summoning. He comes because He wills. In other words, the essential in the liturgy is the mystery, which is realized in the common ritual of the Church; all the rest diminishes it. Men experiment with it in lively fashion, and find themselves deceived, when the mystery is transformed into distraction, when the chief actor in the liturgy is not the Living God but the priest or the liturgical director. - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Chile, 1988)
Do we still need sacred space, sacred time, mediating symbols? Yes, we do need them, precisely so that, through the "image," through the sign, we learn to see the openness of heaven. We need them to give us the capacity to know the mystery of God in the pierced heart of the Crucified. - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Spirit of the Liturgy )