There is an article on http://blog.acton.org/archives/28228-rev-sirico-contemplating-christmas.html posted by a certain John Couretas. It was written by one Rev. Robert Sirico. The following lines struck me from the article, and I quote, “The challenge of Christmas is not to wait for a God who with shouts, trumpets and great fanfare will attract our attention, but to search for the One who comes discretely and must be carefully discerned in the midst of everyday lives.”
This quote spurred some reflection on the immense impact of the Incarnation of the Son of God.
First of all, the impact of the Incarnation – of God being really in our midst, partaking of the most ordinary part of our lives – must be experienced before we can enter into any form of relationship with God, much more adopting a Christian spirituality. Barring sinful actions we may commit in any given day, try listing down all the ordinary things you do on a daily basis. You wake up, you do your toilet, you take a bath. You eat, you walk, you greet your family, you go to work. You get tired, you get bored, you long for your friends, you have dinner with friends, sometimes with a couple of drinks. On special days you probably attended a wedding, danced with some people, and the like. There are days you go on long trips to unwind. On Sundays you go to church. In the evenings you come home, tired, barely lying on your bed when you start snoring.
Imagine Jesus doing ALL of that too. And for most of His life – a good thirty years of it – he did all that. His life was the daily rhythm of Jewish life, shaped by religious laws, cultural practices, and the Roman shadow hanging above all of them. Surely he must have had to pay taxes too! He went to funerals, to circumcisions, to parties.
This is what Christmas is all about: God – the immense, transcendent, all powerful, all knowing enters into the ordinary. Christmas should bring home the realization that God’s intent is not to be part of your Sunday Masses only. Nor is He part of your rising and your sleeping only. Christmas is the faith-evidence that God wants to be part of our lives – in the most ordinary, mundane routines of our lives, notwithstanding the special moments.
And this is the first challenge: Not that God becomes present to us, because God’s omnipresence and Christmas itself makes Him present to us at all times. The challenge is to make ourselves present to God. Only when we can make ourselves present to Him – conscious of Him on an increasingly continuous basis – can we say that we have begun to enter in a relationship with God.
Secondly, if we want God to truly transform our lives – to save us – then we must make ourselves more and more open to Him.
Mary Most Holy, while truly immaculate, could have lost all that much like Eve (who was created immaculate too). But our Lady exercised her freedom not to “take the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil” so that she “can become like God.” Rather, our Lady exercised her freedom to choose God and to make herself completely available to God and His Will. When she said, “Behold the handmaid (slave girl) of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word,” she meant it completely.
And with that she becomes the only one full of grace – saved in a preeminent way – saved upon her conception, and carried over until her Assumption. Her complete openness allowed her to be filled with the Holy Spirit so completely, to become the Mother of God. And so she fully possessed God. In her the mystery and message of the Incarnation is complete.
But we too can share in that privilege. If we strive everyday to make less space for sin, and more space for God, then we can begin to experience salvation. God becomes more and more “with us.”
This Christmas, it is my personal prayer that we all begin to draw closer to God who is in the ordinary – as ordinary as a helpless child in swaddling clothes – and experience transformation as we allow more space for Him. If there is room in the “inn” of our hearts, then for sure, Christ will be “born” in you, and you will begin the journey of true liberation under the loving, watchful eyes of the Father.
And then, certainly, the Light has dawned on you, and you will then and forever be transformed.