Bishop Edwin Tompkins
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
From the thoughts of Fr. John Keble, Christmas, 1885
In the Gospel John sets forth God’s act of new-creation. Just as we read in Genesis, when He decided to make the world, the first thing He did was to say, " Let there be light, and there was light:” (Gen. i. 3.) For God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1John i. 5.) The Presence of God is Light, His absence is darkness. No wonder that when He showed Himself in a new and wonderful way, in the flesh and soul of that little Baby, Who, as on this day, was born of the Virgin Mary and laid in the manger of Bethlehem as if it had been a cradle—no wonder that Christ’s Birth should be compared to a great light shining. He is like the sun, which comes forth as a Bridegroom out of His chamber, as the Psalms says: from the chamber of the Blessed Virgin’s womb, where the incredible union of God’s Nature with man’s had taken place.
Isaiah tells us that, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isa. ix. 2.) And in the Gospel, “The Life that was in Christ was the Light of men;” it “shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not: . . . that was the True Light which lighteth every man which cometh into the world.” Thus we see how our Lord is the true Light, and His Birth, the Light dawning on earth. We know, when we look at a Christmas manger picture, how full it is of light. How the little Babe lying in the manger casts a glory all around Him, a Glory of His own; He Himself is the Fountain of light, and the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph and the others around Him, are seen only by that Light; without it, there would be nothing to see.
Because it is the nature of light to make other things shine. Things which it falls upon will either reflect it and give it back, as a mirror or a sheet of snow; or else they will be transparent and light will pass through them as through a drop of water or pane of glass in a window. So Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, has promised to share His Light with us. He arose and shone, that His Church might arise and shine: and not only His whole Church, but also each individual Christian. Since to us God has said, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come;” let us take care that we do shine; that we keep our souls, like a clear mirror, free from stain, which would otherwise dim the glorious image of the Son of God in us.
When Angels look down on our souls, they expect to see them all bright and shining with a purity something like their own, and turning themselves, night and day, towards God, with love. They expect to see our souls also shining with cheerfulness; enlightened with a holy and religious joy; a joy in God, like that of the Blessed Virgin Mother, when she knelt beside the manger, adoring her new-born Babe. Also, we may well believe that the holy Angels, who waited near Bethlehem on that first Christmas Day, and were so ready and eager with their songs of praise, expected to find in us a shining, brighter way of moving ahead, seeking out and fulfilling all His Will. And this is a part of the meaning of the Holy Spirit, when He says to each of us, by the Prophet Isaiah, “Arise, shine.” So, the Christian should always resemble the morning light, should arise and shine more and more. Our goodness is all borrowed, all Christ’s; none of it is really our own; and for this reason it should go on increasing; as there is no end to the water which may be drawn out of a deep, deep well. How are we to grow brighter and brighter, except by constantly renewing ourselves in the first fountain of our brightness that is Jesus Christ? Even as those who would build up a fire, still keep on throwing on more and more wood. In order to make our lamps burn brighter, we have the Great Sacrament, for a special help. For in the Sacrament, as in Him Who gave it, is Life, “and that Life is the Light of men.”