If we reckon days Jewish fashion as starting in the evening, Christmas Eve begins the festive season and this is the twelfth but not the last day of Christmastide. It is another day to reflect upon the mystery of incarnation, before the celebration of the Epiphany, which concludes Christmas festivities, begins tonight on the thirteenth night. Thirteen is one of those significant numbers, like seven and forty, all of which symbolise completion in numerlogical typology.
In very few places do the festivies of Christmas last a full thirteen days any more. Once New Year is reached, holidays finish and regular working patterns resume, with a further brief break in some countries to celebrate Epiphany. Yet, duties can be resumed refreshed and inspired by time spent with family and friends, time spent reflecting on life's true value, dreaming of a different future and making plans, time spent a little closer to the mysteries which give life meaning.
It is a time to remember how Jesus the Son of God, though infinitely rich, became poor for our sakes in solidarity with the disinherited and impoverished people of this world, that they might be uplifted by knowledge of his love for them.
Just as it is possible for God to be so much closer to us than we can be aware of, we poor narrow sighted human beings may hardly be aware of our true selves and what our Creator and Redeemer has made us capable of becoming in relation to Himself. St John writes: "Beloved we are God's children now. It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is."
This assertion is a source of great hope and comfort, not only in the face of death, but also at any and every moment of failure, crisis and challenge that confronts us in life itself. It is a word of life for those moments when we may feel least capable of coping with what we know we must engage with. It is a word of light in the darkness of uncertainty and becoming, when we feel most alone, yet not alone because of Emmanuel - 'God with us'.