Almost the new year...
Today we join the world in celebrating the feast of the Incarnation, "The Word Made Flesh" who continues "to dwell among us," the gift of Emmanuel, God-With-Us. Yes, we celebrate Christmas and the love of God so deep, so unconditional, so timeless, that God sent Jesus to us. A baby born surrounded by the wrappings of physical poverty in a borrowed stable in the cold of winter. His birth witnessed by his young mother and foster father and the native creatures. His birth heralded by angels to a group of shepherds keeping watch over their flocks that night. The shepherds drawn to the place of his birth to adore on bended knee. And the three kings of the East who would later come to find Him, too.
God loves each and everyone of us so deeply and wholly that Jesus came to earth taking on the human flesh of a baby to be one with us and to save us so that we might have life eternal in and with Him.
It is true that for Christians Easter is the feast of feasts, but actually the redemption story has its roots here on this day, the feast of the Incarnation of Christ. Yet our celebration of Jesus coming to us is not limited to today. We have the opportunity to re-celebrate it in each Eucharistic encounter with God where the Word re-takes His dwelling within us and we experience in all trueness the living gift of Emmanuel, God-with-us.
Merry Christmas, my friends! Whether or not you are fully in the Spirit of the day, may the Christ Child whose birth on earth we celebrate gift you with a special reminder of God's love for you and God's abiding presence within you.
Merry and Blessed Christmas!!
Hope requires trust. Hope is built on faith. Hope expresses itself out of love. Hope keeps possibilities opens rather closing doors. Hope invites us to surrender to God's will. Hope calls us to be present to one another, accompanying each other as tangible witnesses to
The second week of Advent brought us the celebration of Mary's Immaculate Conception. In calling Mary forth to life in the womb of Ann, God also breathed into her soul the endowment of hope which later in life enabled her in faith to offer her "fiat" at the Annunciation.
The third week enabled us to examine hope from the perspective of the call to "Rejoice unceasingly," a challenge in particular when we are faced with sorrows, struggles, and sadnesses. Yet, as with hope, we are called to understand the virtue more deeply so that from the soul we are able to have hope even when the world around us seems to be crumbling and life as we know it is shaken (challenges) or perhaps even shattered (losses). Now, on the fourth Sunday of Advent, we have before us a reminder of Mary's fiat in which with all the faith of her human being she expressed the fullness of hope, "I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Your Word."
And now, we are on the brink of the feast of the Incarnation, the birth of Emmanuel, God-is-with-us! While I do not claim to have this relationship with hope perfected, I realize that my Advent gift has been a new understanding of hope, a recognition of hope as a tangible and dynamic dimension of Christian life and the journey to holiness. I have not yet read Pope Benedict's Spe Salvi , but I am looking forward to engaging with and coming to understand and live more deeply the recognition that we are "saved by hope" and the call "to live in joyful hope."