Christmas: Hope, Humility, Holiness
Reflections based on the readings for Christmas:
Isaiah 9.2-4, 6-7, PS. 96, Titus 2. 11-14, Luke 2. 1-16
There is a story of a father who came home to see that his 5-year-old daughter had torn the wrapping paper off the gifts he had already wrapped for his friends. He was upset and did not know what to do about it, when his daughter presented him with a big box covered with torn pieces of his wrapping paper. The Father took the box and opened it eager to find out what his child had given him. But the box was empty. Now the father wanted to teach his daughter a lesson so he told her that when someone presents a gift, it should not be an empty box, you have to put a gift in the box. What a surprise when the little girl, full of joy said: Oh Daddy, the box is not empty. I blew all my kisses in it for you.
“Joy to the world”, the song of angels announcing the birth of Jesus, still has its purpose and promise in our pandemic times. This year Christmas is celebrated with many precautions, socially distanced, empty, alone and may be for most of us a silent reflection of the continued Advent spirit of expectation of normalcy. As people of faith and love, we live with hope and in humility to be embraced in the holiness of God. I would like to reflect with you on these terms of Hope, Humility and Holiness.
Hope becomes real for us during these difficult times in which we are living. We are expecting that freedom we previously enjoyed, the social life we shared, family celebrations where we gathered, not needing rules or restrictions we hear in the news, and no fear of having an unknown virus. We live in hope and in solidarity with the entire humanity, who have suffered during this pandemic. A poet creatively expressed: “We are not in the same boat, we are in the same storm, each one suffering on their own, do not criticize or condemn, be compassionate and caring…” We live in hope, as people of faith in God, a God who is love, and Christmas is a time to experience the embrace of God’s incarnate love. It is then that we can radiate God’s love to others who are suffering in our family, our community, and our society.
Hope fills us with freedom, opens hearts to love, opens our minds with positive thoughts, to be creatively courageous to bring healing, joy and peace to all. Let us live in hope taking inspiration from the words of Pope Saint John the XXIII, “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” We reflect: Are we people of hope to bring peace, joy, and healing to others in this world?
Hope touches the core of our human spirit, opening the humble heart, to make impossible, possible. This experience in the angelic advice received by Blessed Virgin Mary, “for nothing will be impossible with God,” guiding her to the humble Fiat: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done according to your Word.” Mary’s humble openness to the divine encounter, ushered the plan of God’s salvation. Christmas is a story of divine humility; Word made flesh; God becoming human for our salvation. Humility makes our human hope, patient, prudent and progressive.
The Christmas story in the Gospel, confirms God’s plan for our salvation, being born in our human history, during the time of the Emperor Augustus, and in a tiny place called Bethlehem, a firstborn child given birth by his Mother Mary, protected, and cared for by her husband Joseph. A message of good news proclaimed by the angelic hosts, witnessed by the humble shepherds. The Christmas story transformed our history with its humble origin, by its radical message of love, liberating us to embrace our humanity, upholding dignity and respect for the life of the whole creation.
The Christmas story calls us to reflect that our human existence is not separate from divine reality. We are created in the image and likeness of God, so that we can reclaim our identity of being human in our times. Let this Christmas transform us with love, shared with divine humility.
We hope with humility, to be embraced in the holiness of God as we listen to the beautiful Christmas carols: Silent night, Holy night. Christmas is a time to experience divine holiness. In our Christian history we can learn that, no one, and nothing, and not even the modern consumerist world, can take away the true spirit of Christmas – Holiness hidden in the divine humility. We should not miss the meaning of Christmas, no matter how it is expressed; in the liturgy in which we participate, the songs we sing, the family dinner we enjoy, the messages and gifts we share. We celebrate Christmas with divine humility shared with our humanity, proclaiming: Today, a saviour has been born to us: He is Christ the Lord. Let us join the prophetic people we hear in the scriptures, in the poetic psalms we sing, with the holy men and women who lived in faith, joyfully proclaiming the gospel message of love. That love was a child wrapped in swaddling clothes born in Bethlehem.
In humility, let us believe in the mystery of God’s love, who became one with us by the birth of Jesus in our human history, which the angels proclaimed by singing “Glory to God in the Highest,” and the wise seekers, guided by the shining of the star, found the true light of the universe, and they kneeled before the Child Jesus, God’s incarnate love. We ask ourselves: How can we be open to God’s holiness in Jesus, God’s incarnate love, transforming us with his divine humility, filling us with joy, peace, and love?
Prayer: Be born in us incarnate love, Lord Jesus, fill us with your joy, peace and love. May we live in hope with you, immersed in your humility, embraced within your holiness, to radiate your loving presence to the whole of creation. Amen
Reflections by Rev. Wilson Andrade, CSC