“What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race … [To] those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God.” - Jn 1:3-4; 12 

We are always looking for God. Not necessarily the God of religion. But God in whatever helps us to become more fully alive, more truly ourselves, more self-giving, more at peace within. Where we look matters. To what or to whom we give our hearts away either brings greater life or diminishes our living.

The Mystery of the Incarnation we celebrate today is about finding God in surprising places. The Nativity stories reveal God the Most High in a little baby, weak, vulnerable, small and dependent, born in a lowly place, among animals, homeless. Yet, where do we often look for God? In places giving greater capital to possessions, popularity, power, and prestige; in ways that benefits us or protects our ego first, intentionally or unintentionally.  

In the past few weeks my attention has been driven more to darkness than to light. World and regional headlines focus my concern: news of tsunamis that kill hundreds of people in Indonesia; thousands of asylum seekers across the border in Tijuana; hundreds of thousands of blackened California acres left by great fires. Closer realities draw my heart: more detailed revelations of cover ups or detrimental policies regarding sexual abuse of minors by my brother Jesuits and other clergy; flare ups of perfectionistic habits; co-dependent and over-extended tendencies that diminish life in me and those close to me.

It has been quite challenging to sit with these shadows and look for light. Yet, in prayer these past few days, I sense God whispering at a depth I can barely discern: “I’m here. I love you. I trust you. Together, we’ll find greater meaning.” These realizations are not that clear, nor do they drive away the darkness around and within me. Yet, they are enough to turn my gaze to the One who already dwells in my heart. Just enough to look for God where we are weak, vulnerable, small and dependent – in the Christ Child. “God is where the poor are, the hungry, the homeless, handicapped, the mentally ill, the elderly, the powerless,” as Henri Nouwen points out.

 In ways I cannot explain, awkwardly embracing the surprising whispers, “I’m here. I love you. I trust you. Together, we’ll find greater meaning” uncovers life already birthing within me. Accepting this glimmer of light includes being renewed as the child of God.

Today is more than the birthday of Jesus. It is the celebration of the Christ Child in each of us. Today begins the season of rediscovering and embracing Christ’s light in everyone.

Am I invited to look for God in the poor, the lonely, the forgotten, the outcast who is adjacent, around, or within me?

How might I let Christ’s light illuminate places that seem dark in my life?

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