Spirituality for Today – Winter 2019/2020 – Volume 24, Issue 2

A Midnight Clear

Reverend Raymond K. Petrucci

Marking the day by noon and by midnight is a simple matter. Yet, what a difference the passing of those twelve hours makes. One point is filled with light and the other filled by darkness. Viewing your surroundings at noon is an easy work. No matter which direction you look, details of your environment plainly are visible. Judging distances, undulations of the ground, notable objects and their placement are readily assessed in your mind. At midnight, go out to the identical location where you were standing and it is a very different reality. Let us assume that the only sources of light are the stars above and a full moon. Although you remember much of what the daylight revealed, there is difficulty in being certain about the distance and locations of objects now in the dark or barely visible. The tranquil feeling that you had when your environment was illuminated has given way to uneasiness or even a degree of fearfulness. What once clearly had been seen, now, has been hidden from sight. After calming down somewhat, you are brought into a realization and an appreciation of the wonder and mystery of the night sky and the earth below. Indeed, it is possible to sense an eternal presence in the atmosphere.

In an age far past, there was a night, perhaps, a winter's night, in which the miracle of God's love came to pass. The God–man, the Messiah, the Savior has been born. His little eyes gazed upon the worn, but happy "handmaid of the Lord," and upon the strong guardian standing in amazement at the child held in his wife's arms. God's angelic messengers conveyed to shepherds in nearby fields an invitation to come and see. In spite of the dangers in the night, a time of nocturnal hunters in search of prey, they must have left a suitable guard and made their way to the wondrous scene.

Faith is the answer to fear. Deep down we are all afraid: of suffering, or of dying, or of God's judgement, or of the unknown, or of weakness, or of our lives slipping out of control, or of not being understood or loved. We sin because we fear. Faith casts out fear as light casts out darkness. God has shown His light into our world, and it is stronger than darkness. That light is Jesus Christ.

Peter Kreeft, Catholic Christianity

On any Christmas Eve in the presence of a Nativity set, elegant or humble, we can join the shepherds and kings, we can peer over their shoulders at the babe peacefully at rest in the manger. The night, somehow, is less foreboding, less fearful as we lose ourselves in the spectacle of the saving mystery of God's word become flesh. No one could imagine the events of the years to come and what they would mean for the human race, for it was the darkness of a great mystery and no one could see what was to unfold until the darkness dissipated before the Truth of the Light come into the world. Perhaps, when the activities of that Holy Night subside, it might behoove one to venture outside into that night and stand before the mysterious wonder of a world forever changed. One may look into the surrounding darkness and feel a glory encompassing the soul. How one might wish that the world would stop and listen, be still and just let its weary substance be filled with the love and hope of a divine fulfillment.

I would not want to wager my life that the whole world would see the significance of a Christmas night and resolve to become a holier place in the future. But there are those who will come to recognize and respond in faith to the One who has come into the world. Just as in the gospel story of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus, one did come back to thank the Lord. One out of ten did not give into an indifference to the miracle that restored their lives; one was filled with gratitude and with faith and thanksgiving; one presented to the world a hope for humanity. The world will retain the nightfall and the dawn and the soul will be beset with the darkness of sin and also with the saving grace of the light of Christ. Each human being must choose the path he will walk and the destination to which it will lead.

Other midnights would come: a night bearing witness to the power of the Savior upon the tossing waters of the sea, a night of betrayal, arrest, and horror, and a night of resurrection and salvation. There are midnights murky and midnights clear and there is a Light that shines against the darkness — Jesus Christ.

All of us at Clemons Productions wish you and your loved ones a Blessed and Joyful Christmas and a New Year marked by growth in faith.