The God Who Goes the Distance
First, on behalf of all the clergy and staff in our parish, we wish you and yours a Happy Healthy Holy Christmas! May our Good God bless you and keep you in His peace that you may relish in the abundant life He has for us! As a Christmas present to you, we present two gifts:
1) Matthew Kelly’s book, The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity: How Modern Culture Is Robbing Billions of People of Happiness . This book, when read and pondered, is a great tool to assist us in that abundant life. In the weeks ahead, we will have discussion sessions. We will form an informal “book club.”
2) We have renewed our membership to www.formed.org . To join, go to: olphms.formed.org and register. This website is a Treasure of the Faith. Videos, books, talks, audiobooks, all to nurture and nourish our faith. It is awesome. Please take advantage of these wonderful gifts.
Second, let’s meditate together on one little aspect of these majestic feast days. A reality visible in the Gospel for the last Sunday of Advent (Lk 1:39-45) and in many of the possible Christmas Gospels (see especially: Lk 2:1-20). Our God is truly with us! In taking on the fullness of our human condition, Christ bridges the great Creator-creature divide. In these wondrous accounts, baby Jesus becomes the focal point, a center of attraction, awe and marvel. In so doing, he unites those around him.
Mary, after Gabriel’s striking announcement, heads immediately to her cousin Elizabeth. She seeks to confirm the message and to be with Elizabeth in her unexpected pregnancy. When they meet we learn of a remarkable interaction between two boys still in the womb! John recognizes Jesus. Elizabeth shares the message of her son: “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” What a beautiful and remarkable question… who am I to be so close to something so grand? It is Jesus who has reunited cousins, Jesus who has awakened John’s fundamental identity (he who points to the Lamb!), and it is Mary who learned that she is blessed and that her womb is blessed. These are the words of the “Hail Mary”: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
In the accounts of Jesus’ birth too, we see people brought together around Christ. Baby Jesus is a center of gravity to which people, and even farm animals, are drawn. First the shepherds come after the Angel’s powerful announcement. They are filled with fear and awe, and worship the Christ and Savior. Later on the Magi will arrive. The poor and simple arrive first, the wealthy and cultured arrive after, together they form a symbol that all walks of life are drawn to the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes. In the midst, we find Mary pondering everything in her heart.
Our God is one who gathers, who draws, and who attracts. Our savior leans in… more than that, he collapses the enormous divide between God and man, to unite heaven and earth, but also all peoples! Christmas is a day to cherish humility, simplicity and the one who unites all creation to himself. Merry Christmas!