We do our brothers and sisters, perhaps even ourselves, a great disservice at Christmastime if we pretend that the holidays are all sweetness and light. The holidays can be extremely difficult for people for myriad reasons. The loss of loved ones, loneliness, mental health issues, being far away from family, and working long hours in jobs that don’t slow down because it’s Christmas are just a few that come to mind. In many ways the worst thing about feeling lost in the darkness is the belief that everyone around us is enjoying the bright lights, the happy music, the united families, and all the rest. The loneliness and isolation can compound the sadness. The prophet Isaiah is the most consistent voice through the Advent and Christmas season. And he speaks most eloquently to those who are lost in the dark. He preached to the people of Israel in the eighth century BC, when most of them were exiled in Babylon, far from their homes. He knew about people who walk in darkness. The hope offered by the Scriptures is no easy-but-empty promise that there are brighter days ahead. It’s a deep, heartfelt belief that God’s light can penetrate the most profound darkness. It’s a hope we can cling to in the dark, in the silence, in the loneliness. We are blessed if we have people who stay with us in these difficult times when words fail and all seems lost. And we know that for some, God’s great light won’t break upon their darkness in this world. But we believe that one day all will surely walk in that light.
—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections from Pope Francis
by Diane M. Houdek