…..from your Pastors’ Desk…
Remember – The REASON for the Season
Every year we see this. And, even though I find it a bit hokey, it does give us pause to think about what it says. What is the reason for the season for you? In our Catholic life it is a time of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ—not just a birthday party—but a true invitation of (re)inviting Him into our very being. The essence of who we are.
However, not everyone believes that Jesus was the Messiah, the Only Son of God or, in some cases, that he even existed at all. People of various beliefs or of no particular belief, even if they do not celebrate Christmas, still do make some type of ‘observance’ during this season. Something about it
makes it different. Be it gift giving, family gatherings, making peace, or expressing love all seem to be universal sentiments and attributes during this time. I hope we all acknowledge that as Americans we are free to celebrate or not.
For us who do celebrate, who do believe in Jesus as Messiah, I really think that a word we have been singing for four weeks now, a name actually, expresses the deepest meaning of Christmas in a profound, yet simple way. Emmanuel, which means: God is with us, “The Word became flesh” –that is,
God became human, flesh-and-blood, like us “dwells among us.”
The words are so simple and so easy to say, and we have heard them so many times. And yet, these few words express the deepest meaning of Christmas, the deepest meaning of our whole Christian faith. They are telling us that the infinite, all-knowing, all powerful, all-perfect God came into human history, came into the flesh-and-blood condition of a human being. That means that God took on all the limitations, imperfections and deficiencies of being human. God did not stay being God and just play at
being human. But rather, God actually became that baby in the manger, completely dependent on His mother for everything; and then that child and a youth of Nazareth who had to struggle, as we do, with the uncertainties and hesitancies of growing up; and then as a mature adult who even though He had a specific mission, like each of us, had Free Will and had to choose among many possibilities and decide on His own individual life according to His own circumstances.
That is, God, Jesus, was born, grew up, and lived life just exactly as we all do, not only as an infinite, almighty God, but also as a flesh and blood human being. He was really and truly like us all, yet still really and truly God. How can this be? That is the mystery of the Trinity.
Do you see what these words ‘God became flesh: God is with us’ really mean? They mean that our religion must not lead us to seek God someplace outside of this world, like only in heaven, someplace outside of our human history. They mean that the Catholic faith, right from the very beginning
with the birth of Jesus at Christmas, specifically teaches the direct opposite: that God came into the world, that God is right here, with us, STILL in the world, in daily human history with all of its good and bad, with all of its ambiguity; that for us, this is the place where we can find God. Emmanuel, God, IS with us!
To me, this is the special, particular message of Christmas: that, like Jesus we must make our way by who we are and where we are, and when we are. That is it. That is all. That is the whole story.
And that is the kind of understanding to which Christmas calls us in these simple Scripture words: “God became flesh; God is with us”. God is here. God knows what it is like to be like you. God knows you. God loves you. God will never hurt or abandon you.
I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST,