Sometimes it seems that babies pick the most inconvenient hours of a day in which to be born. They seem to delight in awakening their parents in the middle of the night for that hurried trip to the hospital and that happy celebration of a new life.

In this regard, the baby Jesus was no exception. Of course, there was no trip to a hospital. But the records do show that His birth took place in the middle of the night. When Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, they found the place of lodging filled to capacity, suggesting that other travelers had already stopped for the night. The shepherds, who first heard the glad announcement of His birth, were out in the fields, “keeping night watch over their flock”. Our most familiar Christmas carol celebrates the same theme: “Silent Night, holy night…”.

This message that Jesus was born at night is more than historic. It is also symbolic. The darkness of the hour serves as a backdrop for the radiance of His life.

In our Gospel reading for Christmas Day, St. John thought of Jesus and thought of this world, and brought the two together in this one sentence: “the light shines on in darkness, a darkness that did not overcome it”. He is telling us that the possibility of a radiant life in a dark world is a proven fact.

Here is one of the marvels of history, not that the world is dark – it has always been – but that one life, that of Jesus Himself could shine so bright in the midst of all that is darkness. Why do we gather in Church on Christmas Day? The answer to that question is not hard to find. “The light shines on in darkness, a darkness that did not overcome it”.

Does the kind of life for which Jesus stood have any kind of chance in this kind of world today? That question is no longer debatable. It has been answered, not by an argument, but by Jesus Himself. He lived it well. He lighted a candle as it were. He kindled a flame that all the darkness of evil and doubt has not nor will be able to extinguish – a radiant light who is Jesus has come into the darkness of this world.

But St. John went on to describe Jesus as “the real light which gives light to every person”. In other words, the same radiance that shined through Jesus can also shine through you and me. Jesus lived a radiant life in a dark world and has taught us that so can we. So Jesus’ way of life is not only beautiful and admirable, it is also repeatable. Our 21st century world awaits the coming of that radiant light. Jesus’ desire is not so much to be worshiped as to be followed!

We do Jesus a disservice this Christmas, if all we do is place Him in a manger under our Christmas tree. His place is not in a manger under a tree but in our hearts and lives – in the thick of our daily life. He has shown us the way that all of us should follow. He has laid a foundation that each of us can build upon.

In this Advent season, we pause to remember that Jesus is the light of our lives and of the world. But we also need to remember that the same one who said, “I am the light of the world”, also said, “You are the light of the world”.

As we approach Christmas Day remember, the light that shined through Jesus also must shine through us. Then there truly will be ‘peace on earth and good will to all”.