The winter solstice has come and gone. Soon the days will lengthen. The long grass will grow again and birds will start to sing once more…. Once upon a time the true light came to our darkened world. It promised never to fade, dim or disappear. The shepherds, the Magi, even old Simeon and Anna in the temple recognised the light of the world..
People who are not used to church came on Christmas day; their annual nod to God and religion. Religion is often confused with rules and observances, customs and dogmas and limitations. The word ‘re-ligion’ is from a Latin verb meaning to re-connect, ‘re-ligare’.
To practise religion is to re-member – another word that re-connects – who we are and from where we have come. Religion connects us with the divine energy that brought the universe into being, that caused us to be born and baptized, and caused Jesus to rise from the dead.
“God said let there be light….and there was….” Let the virgin conceive and she did….let the Word become flesh….and rise from the dead….and he did. The energy emanating from God is love. Love-energy is at the heart of existence. Religion gets our heads and hearts onto that energy current of God’s love.
Christmas is a season of recognition. The gospel stories around the Christmas event are stories, metaphors if you like, that are designed to draw us to recognise Jesus Christ and worship God. John’s First Letter, which is read at Mass on the days after Christmas, draw attention to God’s love and our love for one another.
There’s an old Jewish parable in which a Rabbi is asked, “When is there enough light in the world?” When it’s bright enough to see whether a stream of water is moving or standing still? Or when it’s bright enough to tell the difference between an oak tree and a sycamore? Or when you can tell the difference between a sheep and a goat on the hillside? The old Rabbi answered, “There’s enough light in the world when you look in someone’s face and see the face of a sister or a brother.”