As I spent some time before the Lord in prayer just before Mass at the Christmas Vigil, I was reading a reflection which visualized the nativity. The imagery struck me. 2000 years ago, in a dark, stinky cave, which was cold and uncomfortable, the Light of the World was born. It was as though God picked the complete opposite circumstance to show forth His glory.
Likewise, on the cross, Jesus experienced spiritual isolation and darkness. In a time of immense suffering, the salvation of the world came forth. Isn’t this the same with our own lives? How often can we go to prayer, feeling we have nothing to give to the Lord? In the dryness of our spiritual lives, we can often feel like we are immersed in the dark - a place we can doubt where the Lord could be present to us. Like the stable of Bethlehem, we can feel lowly and insufficient. Though this can be an unexpected place, it can be where Christ is born into our own hearts.
Instead of being born in the brilliance of a castle or even just a well-lit room, Jesus was born in darkness. In spiritual darkness, we are asked to give birth to Christ. It is in the lack of comfort in trials that our hearts are purified- prayer becomes less about what we get, and more about loving Christ- if we let it.