Sunday, December 25, 2016

God is One with Us

Adoration of the Shepherds
Every year we relive the wonderful Christmas story in the liturgy in churches around the world.  The Gospel summed up this magnificent story in a single line:The Word became flesh.

That line takes us in our imaginations to the beginning of the human family in Genesis.  Man and woman had friendship with God and one another.   But somehow or other they broke that friendship; they fell from grace.  But God did not leave us to our worse selves. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

The Word of God for the Christmas liturgies is like a prism, through which is refracted the multiple facets of this great mystery of the Incarnation.

Isaiah proclaims glad tidings: the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.  Paul writes that the grace of God appeared in Jesus Christ who made us “heirs” to the promise of eternal life.

In the Gospel according to Luke, the Virgin Mary gave birth to her son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger.

And the Gospel of John sums up the meaning of Christmas: the Word became flesh.  That is God’s greatest gift to us.

The spirit of Christmas is a gift we can keep giving throughout the year.  The gift of time: give a phone call to a friend in need, or visit to an ailing or aging relative.  The gift of good example: demonstrating respect, compassion, friendship, that we're fair and honest, that we're men and women of integrity.  The gift of seeing the best in people: let people know that you see their positive qualities, and, sure enough, it will bring out the best in them.

The effects of these gifts can last a lifetime.

Now back to Christmas and the phrase that magnificently sums it up: The Word became flesh.

That changed our destiny.  We carry within ourselves Emmanuel, God with us.  We gather to proclaim the awesome Word of God, to celebrate the presence of the living Christ.

And that great truth of our faith, God within us, challenges us to be a good finder: looking for the good in oneself, in others, in every situation in life.

Remember that magnificent hymn of the Virgin Mary: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. Because the mighty one has done great things for me.  Mary rejoiced, and so too should we rejoice in the gifts God has given us.

God so loved us that he became one of us.  Jesus was one with God.  He is a God-man. A healer, a teacher, a peacemaker.

The world today needs healing and peace.  Here is our Christmas challenge:
What better season for wrongs to be righted;
and friends to be reunited;
for new dreams to start….
What better season for mending and healing,
for saying and feeling what’s in the heart.
What better season for love to keep glowing,
for hope to start growing,
for troubles to cease.
What better season for sharing and giving,
for once again living in joy and in peace!

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