The light and darkness antithesis is a major component of the Fourth Gospel. The imagery appears in the fourth verse of the very first chapter to describe the preincarnate work of Christ:
4 In him was life: and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Life and light are a part of the Fourth Gospel's fundamental diction to describe the essence, work, and mission of the Word made flesh. Juxtaposed with this are death and darkness, which do not mean mere physical death or committing acts of sin, but rather the wholesale rejection of the life Jesus brings into a dying world, and the eternal life He offers to those who choose to follow him to Heaven.
The antithesis of light and darkness is the choice between spiritual life and spiritual death; the willed and active choice to believe on and follow the Light of the World or to be content to live under the reign of the prince of this world.
The light shining in the darkness marks the arrival of Jesus in this world when darkness in this world is at its peak. As described in John 3:18-21, the light shining in the darkness compels a choice. Comprehend the light and believe on Him, or hate the light and love the darkness:
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deed should be reproved.
21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deed may made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
The darkness of this year's winter solstice and Christmas has been palpably darker than in previous years. The explanation for this "darker" darkness is not physical, but spiritual. Too many men love the darkness rather than the light. Too many men hate the light. Very few go to the light.
The Christmas of 2021 is the Christmas of peak darkness. Yet the light continues to shine in the darkness. Understand that the light is also the light of men, and you will comprehend that this Christmas is also the Christmas of peak light.
Beyond thinking about verses from the Fourth Gospel this Christmas Eve, I find myself thinking a great deal about a few verses from the non-Canonical Gospel of Thomas:
24 His disciples said, 'Show us the place you are, since it is necessary for us to seek it.' He said to them, 'Whoever has ears, let him hear. There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is darkness.'
Light does not simply symbolize Jesus; it is also defines the place He is. This place is also within us.
Do not spend this darkest of Christmases trying to comprehend the darkness. Instead, focus on comprehending the light. Find the Light of the World and concentrate on finding this light within you.
Become a man of light, and once you become that man of light, proceed to light up the whole world.
Show the world you are not darkness.