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Fr. Michael's Thoughts on Biblical Imagery: Christmas, The Birth of our Eternity

I like to see Christmas not as an event within history but rather the invasion of time by eternity. The “author” of eternity visited humanity in time to take humanity to eternity (especially those who will come to believe in him). This little philo-theological thought of mine may find gracing in today’s Gospel reading. The inspired writer gives a lecture on the eternal generation of the Word and how at one point in time He came to dwell among us in flesh (without losing His eternity). In this pericope the complete fullness of the divine plan of salvation is spread out before us in the powerful Johannine prologue. Death could not even confine the eternity of the Word, for after three days He will rise up and remain in eternity. The beauty of Christmas lies in the fact that, those who will come to believe in the Son of God are not only made sons and daughters of God but they are born to share in the eternal nature of the Word. Even if many do not recognize and receive him, those of us who do believe and love him have been given the grace to receive him and, through him, in him, and with him, “to become children of God.” Christmas is not only his birth, it must also be our birth from God with him.
            The second reading, from the Letter to the Hebrews, speaks in similar language of the divinity of the Word made man. Where John emphasizes the Alpha more, here the accent is place on the Omega: many words of God preceded this Incarnation. “In this, the final age”, at the end of history, in the Omega, the Father has brought everything together in a single word. But this origin and consummation of all things is an event of “today”. In God there is neither past nor present, only eternal Today, and this eternal Today becomes present in the temporal. That means not only that all the past, all that belongs to the Old Covenant, has always been the dawning of this Today, rather, it also means that, in God, the Today of the invasion of the eternal event can never become a matter of the past. The Now of God’s coming into the world is not new and relevant merely at each recurring Christmas celebration, rather, there can be no moment of an ordinary day in which it is not a present reality. The feast merely reminds us forgetful people that God’s arrival in history is always taking place right now. The Lord who is always coming remains constantly newly arriving, he never departs in order to come again. This is worth thinking about in regard to his eucharistic advent.
In the first reading the prophet adds two things: first, the existence of bearers of glad tidings who announce the Lord’s coming. Without the messengers’ constant cries and “shouts of joy” we might forget how real and immediate the Lord’s coming is. The prophets were messengers, Holy Scripture is a messenger, and, in the Church, the saints and everyone who speaks under the Holy Spirit’s leading are messengers. The second point is that the church’s message of joy is one that is open to the world. It is no secret doctrine learned in esoteric circles. Instead “the Lord bares his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God.” No part of Christ’s revelation is hidden: Jesus will tell Pilate: “I have spoken publicly to the world, in synagogue and temple where all the Jews gather. I have said nothing in secret” (Jn 18:20). The depth of his revelation is, from the beginning, a “sacred open secret.”
            Christmas comes every year, but it is not the same thing that is celebrated every year, in the sense that the story of Christmas brings new forms of actions every year. We hear the same story, but every year, it says different things to us and I think it is important that we remember that. One can say that the significance of Christmas lies in the fact that God loves the world and does not want it to be destroyed, which was why He sent His Son. For this, we must be forever grateful. If God loves us so much, then we must show love to one another, as creatures of God. What we are celebrating signifies the love of God. We must not forget also those who do not have. We need to share what we have with them. So, this is the time for giving and sharing; a time for visiting homes of less privileged persons, such as motherless babies and the old people’s homes, among others.
We should note that Christmas is not about lavish spending and as such, we should cut our coat according to our size. If what you can afford is a fowl, it’s okay. People should celebrate the season based on what they have. They should not borrow or steal. Though we are called to be careful with our spending, we need to get gifts for friends. Buying gifts for loved ones during Christmas is a long-standing tradition that some can simply not do without, no matter the economic situation. Those that believe the celebration is not complete without showering family members, friends, spouses, lovers and colleagues with appropriate gift items are at it again this Christmas.
            Please let no situation in life deny you of celebrating this Yuletide. Christmas is a time for celebration, no matter what may be happening around us. Wish all the readers of “Lectio Divina” MERRY CHRISTMAS. OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP, PRAY FOR US.


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