Today is the Winter Solstice; the shortest day and the longest night of the year. It is the darkest day of the year.
Yet the O Antiphon for today is O Radiant Dawn:
“O Dawn, splendor of eternal light, and sun of justice, come, and shine on those seated in darkness, and in the shadow of death.”
In the darkness of winter all of the Advent candles are lit. The Church looks out from the darkness to the source of all life and light and hope.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-4)”
In Ireland there is an ancient pre Christian site called Newgrange. It has what archeologists call a passage tomb where the ancients buried their dead.
The passage tomb has a unique and deliberate design:
“The prehistoric tomb was carefully aligned by its Neolithic builders so the rising sun at the Winter Solstice illuminates the chamber through a small window called a roofbox above the entrance. When skies are clear, the rising sun slowly shines all the way down the 19-metre long passage into the central chamber of the tomb, lighting it up for 17 minutes.”
Five thousand years ago, an ancient pagan people, sought the light in the darkness. Knowledge of God is written on the human heart; he is in our spiritual DNA.
All religions and all pagan myths contain a kernel of the Truth. J.R.R Tolkien helped to convert the then atheist C.S Lewis. Tolkien explained that every myth and every pagan religion contain the true myth of Jesus Christ.
“…Tolkien explained to Lewis that the story of Christ was the true myth at the very heart of history and at the very root of reality. Whereas the pagan myths were manifestations of God expressing Himself through the minds of poets, using the images of their “mythopoeia” to reveal fragments of His eternal truth, the true myth of Christ was a manifestation of God expressing Himself through Himself, with Himself, and in Himself. God, in the Incarnation, had revealed Himself as the ultimate poet who was creating reality, the true poem or true myth, in His own image. Thus, in a divinely inspired paradox, myth was revealed as the ultimate realism.” (J.R.R. Tolkien: Truth and Myth , JOSEPH PEARCE)
Since the dawn of human history, man has sought the answers to the questions of the human heart. How do I find happiness? Does my life have meaning? Is there life after death? Is there a plan for me?
The answers are only found in the Truth—Jesus Christ. The light who shines in the darkness. The light who penetrates and transforms the human heart.