The Season Of Light

by Father Jason Parkin

"The Journey of the Magi," by T.S. Eliot, is one of the most striking and poignant poems in the Christian tradition. At the end of the poem, the narrator, after recounting his experience traveling to see the Child, writes,

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This: set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

I have long been struck by the imagery of this entire poem, and especially by the idea of the birth of Jesus serving as a death for us, and, indeed, for the entire world. For is not this, in some sense, the feeling we get this time of the year? On Christmas Day, we celebrated the birth of a child, of The Child; and on the Epiphany we receive confirmation of the almost unbelievably good news that the Babe lying mute between the ox and ass is, in fact, the very Word of God. And yet, our joy, during these Christmas and Epiphany seasons, is one that contains in it the knowledge that life will never be quite the same again. The birth of the Holy One brings about the death of so many of the standards and values and priorities of the world. The entrance into our world of the Light has the ability to cast out the darkness in which we too frequently stumble about. And thus, the glory of the Incarnation, and the season of epiphanies that follows, comes not only in the awareness that the Prince of Peace is with us, but also in the awareness that we, as his people, are called to manifest - to embody - to enflesh his light and his life and his love in our own lives.

May this season of Light enkindle in each of us new joy, new hope, and a new heart.