Once again we are beginning preparations to celebrate Christmas – the Feast of the Birth of Jesus.
Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity – God, becomes flesh. Of all the religious celebrations and traditions – even beyond Christianity – the concept of the Deity taking on completely human life with all its experiences is unique. Of course there are many traditions where the human takes on the divine – but what we are celebrating is quite the opposite. We are caught up in the mystery of the Divine taking on the very essence of what was created.
That God desires us is really quite astonishing. God wants to be close to us and God wants us to be close and inseparable from Him. Through Jesus, the Father expresses that eternal love which is revealed to us as being of His very essence. God constantly seeks our companionship through Jesus in very real and practical ways. As Jesus enters into our human experience he brings the assurance and invitation for us to enter into the Divine experience.
As individuals and as a community we must always be alert to anything we might do, think or say, or what others might do, think or say, that will distract us or steer us away from that union. No matter what we (or others) might do, no matter who we (or they) are, or the position held, or the influence or power exercised – we must always keep at the front of our mind the fact of the personal presence of Jesus in our lives. St John Paul II used often to remind us that only Jesus is the answer to the (so-called) eternal questions about our meaning and purpose for existing. Fundamentally that personal presence of Jesus is what makes all things different for us.
In every age we are confronted with challenges – some very difficult and bewildering, some not so – that seek to draw us away from this truth. Some of those challenges arise from ‘outside’ the community and are found everywhere in the public forum – sometimes deliberate, sometimes unintended. With the assurance of faith as our foundation our response to these challenges is to be alert at every moment to the presence of Jesus. In this way we are not distracted and we will always be prepared to demonstrate by word and action the truth. Sometimes the challenges come from within the community and that demands a difference response. There is no place in the community of Jesus for disunity, for gossip, for lack of charity. But central to our community is a responsibility to be true to the Lord Jesus and His teaching – to be clear in our expression, to engage and dispel ignorance, to demonstrate how the Gospel values are meant to be lived, and to love and support each other in our journey of faith. In that journey we must always be prepared to correct and to be corrected.
May our celebration of the Birth of Jesus this year urge us to be generous with our time for prayer, with our time for each other, with our alertness to the needs of others, and with our selfless response to those in need however that may be expressed. The Gift of Jesus is for us and is for us to pass on in any way that is possible. God’s desire for us is a gift and we should reflect that gift in the way in which we deal with others. May this celebration renew our sense of our true value, excite us to be thankful for this and all God’s gifts, and strengthen our ability to build up the community of Jesus in every way possible.
May the wonder of Mary and Joseph be a gift of encouragement for you and your family. May you have a Christmas full of the blessings of joy and peace that are traditionally associated with this Feast and this season Christmas.