Saturday, January 10, 2009

Christmas's last hurrah

FRIARS CORNER, January 11, 2009:

Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord and it is the official end to our Christmas Season. Before we let the wonder of this time of our liturgical year go; before we head into Ordinary Time and begin to prepare for Lent which will be here before we know it, let’s take a moment to really reflect upon the wonder of what we leave behind with the end of Christmas.

Two days after Christmas this year, I found myself back in my former parish in New Hampshire to preside over the baptism of the baby of a friend there. With the Church all decorated for Christmas, I couldn’t help but reflect on the two babies present in the Church – little Mackenzie ready to be baptized, and the Baby Jesus, who of course, is such a focal point of our season.

I know it isn’t a surprise to anyone that Christmas is about the Baby Jesus, but I think that sometimes in the midst of all of our warm and fuzzy feelings of the season, all of the beautiful and familiar hymns, in the midst of all of the presents and gatherings of family and friends that we lose sight of how incredible the moment is – that God comes among us as one of us in the person of Jesus Christ.

God comes to us as a baby! When we think of the reality of the incarnation, we jump right to the adult Jesus. When we think of Jesus, we think of Him walking on water, multiplying loaves and fishes, healing the sick, raising the dead, preaching profoundly – and of course dying for us on the Cross and rising from the dead. But, let’s not forget how this all began.

God did not come to us as the healer, the preacher, the wonder-worker. He came to us as a little, tiny, helpless baby. The situation of Jesus birth is that the Savior of the World was born homeless. “There was no room for them in the inn.” Just after His birth, He became a refugee and the object of an order for His execution.

He came to us in the most complete state of humility possible. God trusted us – in particular He trusted Mary and Joseph – to give birth to this small, helpless life. He trusted us to raise that child to be good and upright and holy. He trusted us to protect and shelter, to feed and educate His only Son. How incredibly humble. How incredibly loving and trusting.

St. Francis of Assisi wrote, “O sublime humility! Look, brothers, at the humility of God and pour out your hearts before Him! Humble yourselves, as well, that you may be exalted by Him. Therefore, hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves so thatHe Who gives Himself totally to you may receive you totally.”

God expects us to continue what He began in Christ. When we say of this season, Christ wants to be born again in your hearts, this is what we mean. God wants to come to each of us, but He comes humbly and vulnerably. It is up to us to care for Him, to nurture Him, to protect and to strengthen so that He can be made known to the world once again. Let us humble ourselves so that we may receive Him once again who came to us with such incredible humility.

A child is born to us today. He comes to us again, so preciously in each and every Eucharist. Let us be moved by His humility and proclaim to the world, “Jesus Christ is born again today!”

A final Merry Christmas this year!

Fr. Tom

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