For 25 December 2023, Christmas, based on John 1:1–18


During this Advent, I found that I often got out of bed earlier than usual, in the dark of night. Several times, I was pleasantly started to look up and notice the first faint pink of dawn reflected in a cloud outside my window—a lovely glimpse of hope in a dark season.
I also have been remembering this experience, greatly magnified, in the long, languid days of several Lake Michigan summers. As a young Dominican, when I was a camp cook, my friends and I would sometimes sleep on the beach—waking to the sound of waves at the first premonition of dawn, sitting huddled in our sleeping bags, trying to gage the moment of a such-sudden breaking forth of sunrise over the eastern horizon. Sunrise was always such a prayerful moment before my busy day of cooking began.
Just a few days ago, at Evening Prayer on December 21, we prayed the exquisite O Antiphon for the day of solstice: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” This Christmas morning, as we hear the first chapter of John’s Gospel proclaimed at Mass, Scripture announces the coming of the very Word of God, who is Light.
I sincerely believe that a divine promise of new and unexpected grace accompanies the dawn of each new liturgical season. Throughout Advent, we have been actively waiting for this inbreaking, this unpredictable fulfillment of promise, this new light.
Come, Jesus, come. Come, Word of God. Take flesh in our lives with needed blessing and a fulfillment of your promise. Divine Messiah, bless our Christmas and bless this new season of faith. Be our sun, rising even now in the East.

A Reading from the First Chapter of the Gospel According to John (1:1–7, 14):
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
. . .
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.

This is today’s Good News of the coming of Jesus Christ.

Scripture passage from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.