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Lindsey Mitzel considers our baptismal call to shine the light of Christ in the darkness of our world.

There’s this coffee shop I discovered one day after a jog, and its warm nutty fragrance pulled me in. In the evening it is bathed in a glittering array emanating from a large nearby evergreen, beset in ornaments, and twinkling lights of several colors. The shop itself is beautifully decorated—and all the nearby stores with their plentiful garlands and lights it feels magical to walk down the glittering street. 

Christmas trees, all lit up, sparkling lights shimmering through the snow trigger a sense of warmth, wonder, and excitement. While beautiful at midday, at midnight the lights are so much more extraordinary. Just so, Jesus, Light of the World, O Radiant Dawn, is most recognizable when all seems bleak in the world. St. John wrote,

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)  


Jesus calls us to love one another—to be the light of the world. He tells us,

[Do] this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep ... Let us then throw off the works of darkness [and] put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:11-12)


As we gaze at all the sparkling lights around us, think of what it would be like if there were no light at all. On the night Jesus was born, the only light Mary would have to give birth by was the fire Joseph might have made, and the stars in the sky. Just as one star shone brighter than the rest, pointing the way to Jesus, Jesus shines brighter than all mankind, pointing the way to the Father. Some refer to the saints as stars shining brightly in the sky, helping to illuminate our way. As they grew closer to Jesus on earth, they became more dazzling themselves, and can help us to do the same.


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Jesus invites us,

“Shine [your light] before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16)


Our “lights,” of course, come from Jesus, result of our Baptism. In the baptismal rite of the Roman Catholic Church, the baptismal candle is lit from the Christ candle. The candle is presented to the newly baptized and the presider states,

This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He (she) is to walk always as a child of the light. May he (she) keep the flame of faith alive in his (her) heart. When the Lord comes, may he (she) go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom. (iBreviary.com)


From our infancy in the Faith, we are called to stand out and shine brightly. The promise in receiving our light from Jesus is that it cannot be extinguished. If we are afraid our light is dimmed, spending more time with Jesus and in the Sacraments offers us the grace we need to be restored to our baptismal radiance.   

Our light indeed arises from our being “clothed in Christ” in our Baptisms. St. John of the Cross writes,  

The Father spoke words 
Of great affection to the Son ...
"My Son, only your company contents me, 
And when something pleases me 
I love that thing in you; 
Whoever resembles you most  
Satisfies me most ...
My Son, I will give myself 
To him who loves you 
And I will love him 
With the same love I have for you ...
So it would be with the bride; 
For, taken wholly into God, 
She will live the life of God." (The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, 61-64) 




In total self-denial and sacrifice, God offers us everything He has—including His eternal life. He offers us Jesus’ birth, under a star, and within the warmth of his family. No matter the darkness in the world, or in your own life, the miraculous gift of the incarnation to us at Christmas is our being given God-made-man, in order that we might be one with Him, and loved by the Father as profoundly as if we were Christ Himself. 


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Jesus, Light of the World, O Radiant Dawn, is most recognizable when all seems bleak in the world. #CatholicMom


The light we can give to the world is a deep knowledge and gratitude of God’s love for us as we are because we have been covered in Christ and are loved as He is for who He is. Mother Teresa said,

Often you can see power lines running alongside the street. Unless current is flowing through them, there is no light. The power line is you and I! The current is God! We have the power to allow the current to flow through us and thus to generate the light of the world: JESUS—or to refuse to be used and, thus, allow the darkness to spread. (Hawaii Catholic Herald



Copyright 2023 Lindsey Mitzel
Images: Canva