Monday, December 20, 2010
Bishop Felipe Estevez
The saddest thing for Christians is for Christmas to pass quickly, leaving us cold, tense and overwhelmed … As that old Spanish song goes, “La vida sigue igual” (roughly, “Life goes on, nothing changes”).
We need for someone to shout at us in order to put us in a state of alertness so that Christmas does not pass without the Christ Child finding us with his tenderness and personal grace.
That is why Christmas carols are so unforgettable. Who can remain indifferent before the melody of “Silent night, holy night”?
How can Emmanuel touch our heart?
It is possible to the degree that believers move from stress to silence. Most people fear silence because it seems to create an uncomfortable emptiness inside. But that emptiness is the antechamber from which we can marvel at the things of God. The goal is to cultivate awe before God, who in his omnipotence and fullness, reduced himself to such a degree that he became for us a tiny baby born from an Immaculate Virgin in the distant East.
Silence is accompanied by calm, by the lack of reproaches and self-criticisms, by a pause in our very active imagination.
That interior silence prepares us to listen to the inspired words through which the Word finds us. St. John, who wrote nothing about the birth of Jesus, succinctly conveys the reality of the Incarnation: The Word became flesh and lived among us (1:14). Truth requires the Marian, slow and quiet contemplation of this mystery.
St. John of the Cross said: “For, in giving us, as He did, His Son, which is His Word — and He has no other — He spoke to us all together, once and for all, in this single Word, and He has no occasion to speak further.” (The Ascent of Mount Carmel, chapter 22:3-4). He insists in telling us that God became mute when he gave us everything, who is his Son.
Whoever, like Mary, keeps and ponders on this Word will recognize that “we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (Jn 1:14), full of grace and truth.
The human heart that has allowed itself to be touched by hearing this Word feels the impulse to radiate that experience in the present of our society. As St. John says, “He made it known … (and we) give witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ by reporting what (we) saw” (1 Jn 1:2).
This sharing of Christmas can be expressed quite diversely. I will give just two examples. When I send Christmas greetings, I can choose someone from whom I feel distant and disconnected, breaking in that way that affective barrier. Another possible gesture in a more domestic sphere involves something that happens frequently: those who love me and help me the most are the same ones who receive the least of my consideration and love. If God loved us to the end (Jn 13:1) why should I not manifest a tender gesture toward my nearest neighbor?
May this Christmas pass not as just another date on the calendar; may it be, for you, a favorable time, a time of salvation, since God loved you in a way that was totally disproportionate to the level of human reasoning. His gift is infinitely priceless and he offers it freely. Come, let us adore him … in the arms of Mary.