And the light shone in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not…
Those who have trouble believing in God, will give a telling look if you ask, “Do you believe in evil?” Adversity is common to the human project. We experience the evils of nature when we grow older. We become challenged in things we used to be able to do easily like bend over and tie our own shoes. Such tendencies can extend all the way from natural to volitional evil, when moral choices become part of this downward slide. The question arises; against this present darkness, why be good? Why beat ’em when you can join ’em?
And yet, people still volunteer to be good, time and again. It is something deeply ingrained in humanity no matter your creed or colour. People can be good. They can also be exceptionally good. They embrace that over more easy choices. It’s the puzzle of the hour, of the day, of the ages. Why choose to be good?
Something in people acknowledges good. We all respond to it - the serendipity of a sudden lucky break, the universality of sitting by a fire or enjoying a beautiful sunset. And yet it is more than that. There is volitional good, like a random act of kindness that comes your way. Occasionally people actively go in search of the good. They want to chase it down, know its source, make it intentional, and have a relationship with whatever that good is.
Gospel. God-spiel. Goodbye. God-be-with-ye. It is there already, buried in our daily speech, the idea that it all comes down to a real personality looking out for our good, as surely as something out there seems to be against us. It goes back to that strange puzzle, the religious component to human beings that science will never properly explain. It’s not just about the mysteries we cannot rationalize. It’s something more. We are not satisfied, because faith is more than intellect. It’s also a matter of what you love.
Love is rare, but it makes living worthwhile. You can get a sense of how lost people really are when you watch a show like The Bachelor and find out how many successful-looking people break down and say their life has no meaning. They are looking for love. It’s the ache that Blaise Pascal described as a God-shaped vacuum at the centre of every human heart.
Christmas is good news because we remember that love also came looking for us in the divine rescue mission we call the incarnation. When we could not quite figure it out on our own, God came down. He shared the suffering that comes from being tired, cold, afraid, and abandoned. He also suffered from the maleficence of intended evil.
We can sense that evil is out there, an animus directed toward the human project. It makes some part of you want to take the hand of the good and embrace it, when you realize that Christmas is not just a story about a fluffy baby. The incarnation is God taking up the battle against evil on our behalf. A tiny baby reaches out to us, vulnerable and powerful at the same time, calling out the good which lies waiting at the bottom of every human heart.
And the darkness comprehended it not. They did not love the light because their deeds were evil. But we comprehend it, that the Christmas story is all about winning that battle of good and evil with our lives. We are called to be part of the Christmas story, not just at Christmas time, but all year round. Every time that goodness rears its head inexplicably in our hearts, the very stones cry out Jesus’ name and something in the universe rejoices. The search for good is a year round project, but we get a little bit closer every year at Christmas when good became a personality who embraced us all. Good God Almighty!