Saturday, January 11, 2014

"God-With-Us": Let Us Live What We Celebrate in These Days

From Bethlehem to the Jordan, we have celebrated in these days God's "opening up of himself," his giving of himself to us. He who is the Mystery that every human person seeks; he who is on "the other side" of the *More* that every person pleads for in front of reality: he has done something beyond all of our dreams and our myths and our philosophy and our striving. He himself--the Infinite Mystery--has come into our reality, into actual human flesh and blood.

God is with us. He had made his dwelling among us and remains with us. He has intervened directly and totally in the story of the human race. God himself dwells in the midst of our cruelty, barbarism, blindness, idolatry, and willful ignorance of his compassion and love.

God has given everything; he has poured himself out in love, and in so doing he manifests his ineffable glory, for God is Love. The fullness of the revelation of God is in this love that overcomes sin, that embraces us and heals us. The Infinite Mystery is Infinite Mercy.

And Divine mercy has a human face and a name: Jesus.

Jesus is the reason for the joy and wonder that fill our hearts in the Christmas season, and at any other time when we recognize in life some sign of him for whom we hope. We celebrate his coming with the awareness that in the risen and glorified Jesus (and in Mary) the New Creation has already begun in its fullness. Meanwhile, we remain in this present age so that we might grow into the fullness of perfect adherence to his mercy, and so that we might announce the gift of God’s love in our world of fear and illusion, frustration and weakness, violence and malice, searching and incomprehensible suffering.

In front of the suffering of our brothers and sisters we must witness that Jesus Christ is the only answer to the search for meaning and the yearning for love that God has fashioned in the depths of every human heart. Only Jesus really knows me; only he can answer for me the question, “Who am I?

Christians must become more profoundly aware of this fact. They must not rest content and comfortable (or afraid) behind closed doors. They must beg the Lord to deepen the conviction and the ardor of their faith and love, so that they will perceive more concretely that the glory of Christ is the real, superabundant, unimaginable answer to every human misery, every human cry of anguish, every authentic human desire for something more than the limits of this world can give.

We Christians: we need this capacity to see life as it really is. Then we will be able to give love, to bring healing, to meet human needs with God's mercy, to be witnesses.

The "New Evangelization" calls upon us, first of all, to become more deeply aware of the fact that Jesus himself corresponds to the mystery of the human heart -- my own heart, and the heart of every person I meet. We must beg God to give us the grace to see our world, our circumstances -- vividly -- in light of this truth.

We must beg God to teach us how to pray, to open our eyes and our hearts to recognize his presence, to be changed by his "humble glory." We must seek him in the life of the Church, drawing strength from the Eucharist and the sacraments, and from one another in the companionship that is born from this new unity we share in his mercy and love.

We are called to have a faith that lives on the concrete, day to day level with conviction and deep, abiding joy. Jesus is Lord. He has all things. He is the meaning of the universe, the meaning of history, the meaning of today, this day, this moment, now.

He enters into our "now" and transforms it into an invitation to respond in love to the mystery of his love. His presence empowers our hearts and draws us to respond more and more in love to his love, to abandon ourselves to his love.

He is here: he who is the Source who sustains all things and "saves them from nothingness." Human beings live in fear of the Ultimate Mystery; they flee from it because it appears to them to be a gaping abyss of darkness. A true Christian does not deny this mysterious abyss, or seek to replace it with some ideology or cheap sentiment. A true Christian lives the mystery of being human all the way to the abyss and suffers it's darkness. Christian faith knows that Jesus is here too, and above all.

Jesus has fathomed the abyss of our own mystery, and calls upon us to trust in him because the abyss is Eternal Love. The abyss is Mercy that will finally take us beyond yearning and longing, beyond ourselves and our limits and into the fulfillment for which we have been made. He is here and we will be saved if we adhere to him and hold onto him and never let go. 

To seek, to live, to bear witness to the enduring presence of Jesus in the world, the presence of Jesus who embraces the whole of life: this is the most essential thing we can do to carry the mystery of Christmas beyond these days of celebration, for it is through us that Jesus continues to appear to the world and make himself known.