The Word became flesh…
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14). In this blessed season of Christmas (which begins, not ends, on Christmas day), we celebrate that God has come to dwell among us. Our God is not distant, but near. Notice the intentionality of the tense I use here: “God IS with us!” Rather than “God WAS with us.”
Yet when we look at the world, it does not seem that God is with us. In this age, even the Christmas song, O Little Town of Bethlehem, seems ironic:
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep,
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light.
The light we see over the Bethlehem region now is the fire of weapons and the cries of the suffering innocents; this over the very place Our Lord was born. So much for peace on Earth.
Why did Jesus come? Was it to solve our medical problems? Was it to solve our economic problems? Was it to solve our political problems? If so, then Jesus was a fake and a failure. We still get sick and die. We still have grinding poverty. We still have politics that are corrupt and divisive and radically imperfect everywhere in the world. What did Jesus give the world that it did not have before?
The answer is clear, as Pope Benedict XVI tells us, in Jesus of Nazareth:
What did Jesus actually bring, if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought? The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God. He has brought the God who formerly unveiled his countenance gradually, first to Abraham, then to Moses and the Prophets, and then in the Wisdom Literature—the God who revealed his face only in Israel, even though he was also honored among the pagans in various shadowy guises. It is this God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the true God, whom he has brought to the nations of the earth. He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about our origin and destiny: faith, hope, and love. It is only because of our hardness of heart that we think this is too little. Yes indeed, God’s power works quietly in this world, but it is the true and lasting power. Again and again, God’s cause seems to be in its death throes. Yet over and over again it proves to be the thing that truly endures and saves. The earthly kingdoms that Satan was able to put before the Lord at that time have all passed away. Their glory, their doxa, has proven to be a mere semblance. But the glory of Christ, the humble, self-sacrificing glory of his love, has not passed away, nor will it ever do so.
Jesus came to establish God among us, in a way that changed the world forever. Jesus remains with us as he continues to pour into his Church the free gift of salvation. He is with us in the Eucharist, He is with us in His body, the Church, on which we are grafted at the moment of our Baptism.
The peace Jesus gives us is one the world cannot give. It is the peace we receive in knowing that beyond war, violence, political unrest, poverty, sickness, addiction, abuse, hunger, depression, economic hardship, and even death itself, lies the true and everlasting light that promises us salvation and life eternal. GOD IS WITH US!
I would be remiss not to take this moment to thank all of those who worked so hard to make our Advent and Christmas celebrations so beautiful. To those who assisted with decor, to those who assisted at our drive-thru Nativity and our Penance service, to our wonderful music ministry, to those who assisted our liturgies at ministry at the Altar and of the Word, to those who help welcome and greet people, and to all of our amazing volunteers, catechists, and our hard-working and committed Parish staff, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
And to each and every person reading this message, I thank you for worshiping with us this weekend and wish a very blessed and beautiful Christmas season to you and to your family!
And so as Tiny Tim observed, “God Bless us, Every One!”