Tuesday, December 30, 2014

He Still Comes to Dwell With Us

Christmas is an invitation to faith, trust, and love.

In our world that is so violent and selfish, that seems so hopeless in so many ways, God still comes to dwell with us.

Christmas calls us to reaffirm our faith in the mystery of the Incarnation, in God’s definitive intervention into the story of the human race; God making Himself present in the midst of human cruelty, barbarism, blindness, idolatry, and willful ignorance of His compassion and love.

Sometimes Christmas can seem a little abstract, as the world seems to go on in the same way as ever, with all of its conflicts and pride and grasping for power.

We also don't seem to change much. Our lives are still a mess. We've spent another year going around in circles, seeking our own satisfaction, accumulating new grievances, complaining, gossiping, screwing up the relationships that matter most to us, hurting the people we love.

And now it's Christmas and we stress out over gifts and food, and then we go to church and kneel before the infant Jesus and maybe it strikes us:
"Gosh, I have to admit that God is just not very important in my life. For me, being a religious person means regarding God as the Cosmic Policeman. I try not to disobey the rules. I respect Him. But I live my own life, and, frankly, I'm more comfortable when He's not around. I pray: 'Dear God, I'll be good. Okay? Protect me. Give me the stuff I need. And give me some goodies too, some nice stuff. And then leave me alone. Let me have some fun. Please?'"
But who are we talking to? A baby.

Doesn't that surprise us? We pray to God and gaze upon the image of a baby. Not because we thought it would be a good idea to represent God as a baby, but because God really became a baby.

We didn't make this up. It happened. God came into the world. He made Himself "small" so that He could enter into our lives. 

What does this mean for us? We can only grasp this by faith. We can only live the reality of this by trust and love. Let us ask the Lord to stir up this faith, trust, and love in our hearts.

If we let God into our hearts -- the God who has become so small for our sake -- we will begin to discover what this is all about. God has come to us. God has given everything. He has poured Himself out in Love. He can do this because He is Love.

And He has come to be the One who accompanies us in our misery and leads us out and beyond all of it. The fullness of the revelation of God’s love is mercy.

This baby is God's mercy. The God who is Love wants to be close to us, to save us. His name is Jesus.

Jesus is the gift of God’s merciful Love to the world, to restore -- indeed to transform -- human beings into His image and likeness. He is the reason for the joy that calls out to our hearts at Christmas.

He wants to take care of the messes of our lives, to come to us not as a threat to our humanity, but precisely as the One who generates that humanity, who creates love, who creates freedom, who makes me to be me.

The "real me" is created and redeemed in the image and likeness of God. The "real me" is not found in distraction and evasion born of fear, or the graspings of pride. The "real me" is made for freedom, for love, for self-giving in a relationship with the God who is Freedom, Love, Gift, who gives Himself to me -- and with all my brothers and sisters among whom I find Him again, the One who comes to be with me, the One who gives, Jesus, my baby brother.

Let us believe in Him, trust Him, love Him, knowing that all has been accomplished, that in the risen and glorified Jesus and Mary the New Creation has already begun in its fullness.

Meanwhile, let us live our faith in this present age so that we might grow into the fullness of trust and perfect adherence to His mercy, and so that we might witness the gift of God’s love in a world of sin, a world of confusion and violence, a world that is afraid of God, that wants to forget God.

The world strives to live without God, and then groans with the awful anxiety of the darkness, the dread of being alone, the failures and the guilt that cannot be fixed, and the dying without knowing why.

Yet "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son..." and God still loves the world through this irrevocable gift.

The gift is Jesus.

He has come to dwell with us, and He offers Himself to everyone who will receive Him with faith, trust, and love.