To a world that too often chooses to define itself as secular (without God) we carry about in our bodies the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may be manifest. If life, we too incarnate our faith in the identities and vocations that sum up our lives. Believing that what we do for the least esteemed of God’s people, we do for Him, we become-the nourishment that feed the hungry, the garments that clothe the naked, the home that shelters the homeless, the land that welcomes the immigrants. We become hearts that console; a way for wayfarers; truth for searchers; light in a darkened world; salt of the earth and life for the world.
As I grow older, the achievements of the past and the uncertainties of the future fade in view of the present – the “now” – the actual celebration of Christmas makes us one with His Son, and makes God’s Son astonishingly vulnerable. The simplicity and generosity of this divine gift, this tiny body in Mary’s arms, prompts us to believe that despite our own vulnerability and limitation, God truly loves us. Without this incarnate display of the healing affection of our God, we would simply be like so many unfortunate homeless people huddling in the dark alleys of life. As achievements fad and horizons shrink in our common quest for identity and meaning, we become aware that the child in us must increase and we must decrease in significance, as we uncover the healing touch of Jesus somewhere in our own vulnerability and in our efforts to bind the wounds of our sisters and brothers.
After almost 82 years of marching to my own (congenitally irregular) heartbeat (now gently prodded by pacemaker), it is humbling to realize that I am nor marching in the number of very senior saints, hoping that there still remain a few more parades in which I can carry the banner. “Now” is less a journey of accomplishments, more a path of anticipation of that “not yet” presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As we age, we live neither on the strength of past achievements nor on dreams of what they be here or hereafter. We live somehow here in our own now, aware that this now extends into the “external now” of God.
So, during this holiday season, I invite you in memory’s eye to revisit your own small but significant Bethlehem. And in view of the Christ Child, “stretch out your hands to another human being – reach out beyond yourself – to touch the infinite beyond every human face that hungers for God.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good New Year,
Fraternally in Christ,