Skip to comments.Why Is Christmas Considered a Nighttime Event?
Posted on 12/28/2016 8:54:22 AM PST by Salvation
O Holy night! Yes, a silent night! And it came upon a midnight clear! Christmas, it would seem, is a festival of the middle of the night. Jesus is born when it is dark, dark midnight. We are sure of it. And why shouldnt we be?
Even though we are not told the exact hour of His birth, we are sure it must have been at night. Scripture does say that the Shepherds who heard the glad tidings were keeping watch over their flock by night (cf Luke 2:9). Further, the Magi sought Him by the light of a star, and stars are seen at night, deep midnight. None of this is evidence that Jesus was born at 12:00 midnight but it sets our clocks for night, deep midnight.
Add to this the fact that Christmas is celebrated at the winter solstice, the very darkest time of the year in the northern hemisphere. More specifically, Christmas comes when light is just beginning its subtle return. The darkest and shortest days of the year occur around December 21st and 22nd. But by December 23rd and 24th we notice a definite but subtle trend: the days are getting longer; the light is returning! Its time to celebrate the return of the light. Its going to be all right!
How fitting it is to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the true Light of the World, in deep and dark December. Jesus our light kindles a fire that never dies away. Indeed, in the dark hours of December, we notice a trend: the light is returning; the darkness is abating; the days are beginning to grow longer. It is subtle right now, but it will grow. And with the return of light, we celebrate our True Light: Jesus.
But light is best appreciated in contrast. We appreciate most the glory of light when the darkness assails us. Theres just something about Christmas Eve. As the time approaches through December and the darkness grows, we light lights. Yes, all through December we light Advent candles, more candles as it grows darker. Even the secular among us string up lights, in malls, on their houses, in their workplace. Its as if to say, the darkness cannot win; the light conquers!
Lights show their true glory when contrasted with darkness. Who sees the stars in the middle of the day? Who appreciates the full beauty of light until he has experienced darkness? Yes, Christmas is a feast of the light. We confront the darkness of December and declare to it, Your deepest days are over. The light is returning. And we of faith say to a world in ever deeper darkness, Your darkness cannot prevail. It will be overcome and replaced. For although darkness has its season, it is always conquered by the light.
An atheist recently scoffed at me in the comments of this blog that our day is over; the world has rejected faith. Sorry, dear atheist friend, the light always wins. On December 22nd, the darkness begins to recede and the light begins to return. The light returns subtly at first, but it always does; the darkness cannot last.
Light has a way of simply replacing the darkness. In three months the equinox occurs and in six months the summer solstice, when we have the most light. Then the darkness will once again seek to conquer. But it always loses! The light will return. Jesus is always born at the hour of darkness greatest moment. Just when the darkness is celebrating most, its hour is over; the light dawns again.
We celebrate after sundown on December 24th, in accordance with a tradition going back to Jewish times (feasts begin at sundown the night before). Christmas morning is almost an afterthought. Most pastors know that the majority of their people come to Mass the night before. In a deep and dark December, a light comes forth. A star shines in the heavens.
We gather together in and on a dark night. We smile. We are moved by the cry of a small infant, by whose voice the heavens were made. His little cry lights up the night. The darkness must go; the light has come; day is at hand.
We celebrate at night so as to bid farewell to the darkness. It cannot prevail. It is destined to be scattered by a Light far more powerful than it is, a Light it must obey, a Light that overwhelms and replaces it. Farewell to darkness; the Light of the World has come!
Jesus is the Light of the World.
The video below is a celebration of light. As a Christmas gift to myself I took the afternoon of December 22nd (the darkest day of the year) off so that I could photograph the triumph of light over darkness. I went to a mausoleum, a place where thousands are buried in the walls. But also in those walls are windows, glorious windows where light breaks through and Christ shines forth. Some of the most beautiful stained glass in the city of Washington, D.C. resides in that place of death and darkness. The light breaks through and it speaks of Christ.
This video shows only some of those stained glass windows (I am putting together a video of other windows to be shown later). The text of the music in this video is from Taizé, and it says, Christe lux mundi, qui sequitur te, habebit lumen vitae, lumen vitae (Christ, Light of the World, who follows you has the light of life, the light of life).
As you view this video depicting the Life of Christ, ponder that although stained glass begins as opaque sand, when subjected to and purified by fire it radiates the glory of the light which can now shine through it. So it is for us. Born in darkness but purified by Christ and the fire of the Spirit, we begin to radiate His many splendored Light shining through us to a dark world.
The Light wins. He always wins.
Monsignor Pope Ping!
Because that’s when Santa Claus comes!
I’m not sure how particularly enamored I am of the basic message of the song “Mary - by: Patty Griffin”, but the artwork depicting Mary, mother of Jesus, in this video is exquisite.
Because nobody stays at an inn during the day................
Because stars are hard to see in the daytime even for Magi?
I can only assume that Mary and Joseph spent only one night in Bethlehem, took care of the newborn baby and did the census paperwork with the Romans and left to go back to Nazereth the next day.
The New Testament says the ‘wise men’ found the child in a house, not a manger, so Jesus could have been a month old at the time of their coming.
I know! right? You would think this ‘author’ would know something that basic
Stars are seen at night, like 7:45, too ... unless it's cloudy.
I know, he's feeling poetic ...
Shepherds keeping watch by night, a star...do we need more?
The Magi showed up when Jesus was a toddler. If they woke him at night, Mary would have been quite put out...
And there were, in the same country, shepherds, abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night....
It’ almost the shortest day of the year, it’s dark all the time.
Where did you get that mistaken information?
Matthew 2:8, 10, 11, 13, 14 “young child”
Matthew 2:7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
Matthew 2:16 - Herod kills all “from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.”
Seems to me the wise men told Herod that the star appeared around two years earlier. Toddler could be the description.
“Seems to me the wise men told Herod that the star appeared around two years earlier. Toddler could be the description.”
If the star appeared two years earlier, that does not mean that Jesus was born two years earlier. The wise men found Jesus in Bethlehem. There’s no logical reason to believe the Holy Family was there for two years or even one year.
Herod was just trying to cover all possibilities by murdering EVERY male child under two years of age.
Fair enough. It is generally assumed that the new star appeared with the birth of Christ, but it could have appeared long before. And Herod could have been being careful by covering a wider range.
But then we have “come into the house” in verse 11. If there was “no room in the inn” why were they in a house that very night?
Of course, the Bible doesn’t give details on all this. So we just have to add our own filler. I think I side on the idea that Jesus was around two years old, and that Mary and Joseph were able to use the treasures from the wise men to make their move to Egypt.
Luke 2:12 Baby is βρέφος brephos which means a new-born child, an infant, a babe.
Matthew 2:8 Child is παιδίον paidion which means a young child, a little boy.
Further in Luke the Magi are not referenced when the shepherds were called. In Matthew, the Magi came 'after' Jesus was born, having related to Herod that they saw His star in the East. They set upon their journey (most likely from Persepolis or another city in Persia) which would have taken several months.
Finally, Herod dictated the death of all male children 2 years old and younger.
“But then we have come into the house in verse 11. If there was no room in the inn why were they in a house that very night?”
Perhaps someone took pity on the young mother and her little baby and said, “Please stay in my home while you’re here.”
It also be pointed out that the Greek word used in Scripture for “inn” is kataluma, and can mean guest chamber, lodging place or inn. The only other time this word was used in the New Testament, it means a furnished, large, upper story room within a private house. It is translated guest chamber, not inn (Mark 14:14-15). Some say Jesus was born in the house of relatives, but outside the normal living and guest quarters. Many houses had a living area for animals. Perhaps the Holy Family ended up in that enclosed space and it might very well have been a cave of some sort. http://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/749/why-inn-for-kataluma-in-luke-27
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