The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

(John 1:5, NIV)


She hurled her words from her square olive-skin face, framed in a straight, no-nonsense haircut, her large black eyes piercing each listener. A former Marxist activist, she had been a hater of Christian America, well schooled in socialistic literature, but she wanted desperately to learn the idiomatic English which could propel her into the business world. There she intended to convert weaklings to Communism.

Her university in Mongolia employed a young, quiet-spoken American woman teaching the language she craved. Easy prey, she thought, so she sought frequent dialogues, asking numerous questions. But each answer from the teacher came back with either a quotation from the Bible or a reference to a biblical truth. At first the student tried to digest the meaning with the intent of using it against her intended adversaries, but the penetrating depth of the Bible’s take on the human condition intrigued her. One day she off-handedly asked about this special day called Christmas.

Gospel accounts, confirming prophecies about the Christ-child, not only aroused her curiosity but touched a deeply buried chord in her heart, the universal cry for hope. She had to find out more, and eventually she became a passionate disciple of Jesus Christ.

How often we blunt our versions of the Nativity: festive foods, holy masses, ritual candle ceremonies, elaborate piñatas, and Christmas trees—traditions that filter the true light shining in the darkness.

Hope born in Bethlehem must be highlighted. Let us never again exchange a gift or send a Christmas card without emphasizing that it comes because of the Light of the world. “Let your light so shine that men may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).