It has become my tradition on Christmas Eve to stay up way too late, attempting to compose an article or create some work of art to post here in celebration of the holy Nativity of our Savior.
More often than not, nothing even remotely worthy emerges from this effort and I am reminded that I could have more fruitfully spent this time in prayer.
Last night was no exception.
This Christmas morning it is evident to me that there is but one question before me: will I be humble enough to receive Him?
Our celebrations of the birth of Christ are both a foretaste and a fulfillment.
God has fulfilled our every desire and need by coming among us, allowing us to not only hear His holy Word, but to see Him and touch Him in the person of Jesus.
Yet so unready are we in our brokenness to receive Him that we can only know this feast as a foretaste of what we hope for – the fullness of life, free from our weakness and sin.
So often we fall into the corruption of Christmas, allowing the secular holiday to take precedence over the divine Gift that supersedes any other gift.
Or we become so preoccupied with how we will share the Word that we do not allow ourselves become still, to be humble and open, in order to truly allow Him to be born in us.
I suffer from the latter condition. And so I ask myself:
Will I be humble enough to receive Him? Not just to receive Him in Eucharist, in Christmas joy, but in every moment and every aspect of my life?
Will I be open enough to receive Him in the rich and the poor, in the friend, the foreigner, the foe?
Will my heart being loving enough to recognize Him in the tyrants, the abusers, the sinners of this world – as well as in His saints?
Of myself, I am not that humble, that open or that loving. And this is why I need him. Why we all need HIm.
Today the seed of His love is planted within us again. May we cultivate it, may He send us the rain and the sun we need for it to grow. May His love and truth flower within us.
Blessed Christmas, my friends.
(I am in Minnesota as I write this and just returned from Liturgy. As the church was starting to empty, I noticed a woman with a suitcase and a large backpack, filled to the point of bursting. She was standing alone in the lobby, plugging in her cell phone to charge it. The temperature outside is -3 degrees. I stood near her for a bit and finally approached her to ask if she needed help. She held up her hand to fend me off, not allowing herself to hear what I might have to say. I suspect that she is frightened and fleeing, whether from demons seen or unseen. Please pray for her. May she find safety and know the love of God that longs to embrace her.)
I’m praying for her now, Mary. Also for a 6th months pregnant mother of three whose photograph (shooting heroin; the methadone clinic had been unavailable to her) was in our local paper. Also for the family that was observed sleeping in their car on a deserted lot this morning. These are important nativity images. They enrich the liturgy for me.
Yes, Al, nativity images we need. As God has joined us in our weakness, so must we join with others. I am praying with you for the people you mentioned – and the many in our world who, like them, are starving for hope.