“In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Christmas Eve gives us the beautiful canticle of Zechariah (the Benedictus), the father of John the Baptist, upon his naming John and being freed to speak (Lk 1:67-79).  Filled with the Holy Spirit, he speaks of the coming of the Savior that God had promised and for which the Chosen People had waited for so long.  He closes by speaking of his own son as a prophet preparing the way for the Savior.   His closing sentence appears above.  To some extent or another we all dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.  In darkness due to our sins which obscure truth and hurt us in our receptiveness to grace.  In the shadow of death because one day we will go the way of all men.  The light of truth is Christ!  The one who walks with us through the dark valley is the breaking dawn we so long to see.  He is the one through whom the only true and lasting peace can be attained.  Zechariah anticipates the birth of the child who effects and fulfills all of this.  We do the same.  The emanation that Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds saw coming from the manger is the Light of the World.  Let us reflect that light always so that many will come to the stable.

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