The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
1 John 2:3-11, Luke 2:22-35
Christ is born. Let us worship Him. The love of God has become tangible. The Son of God came among us to bring us salvation. St. Bernard puts it quite beautifully. “Our eyes were darkened, yet he dwells in light inaccessible, and lying paralyzed on our mats we could not reach the divine height. That is why our most gracious Savior and Healer of souls both descended from his lofty height and dimmed his brilliance for our weak eyes” (Sermons for Advent and Christmas, #9). God loves us so much, that He accommodates himself to our weakness. Through the mystery of the Incarnation God teaches us to empty ourselves of all attachments, and anything that keeps us from relying totally on Him. “Life passes, riches fly away, popularity is fickle, the senses decay, the world changes. One alone is true to us; One alone can be all things to us; One alone can supply our need” (John Henry Newman). God alone is enough. We can find the happiness he wants for us by letting him guide us, by being mindful of his loving presence.
When we ponder the Word of God in our hearts, the Word that became flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary takes flesh in us. We conform ourselves to him by possessing obedient and loving faith. The Spirit that overshadowed the Blessed Virgin expresses itself in our acts of love and compassion towards others. Through us, God continues to seek out the lost who have a special claim on his loving compassion. Man is God’s possession by virtue of his choice made in love. He expands our hearts so that his compassionate heart might love in ours. In his Christmas homily of 1964, St. Paul VI offered this exhortation. “May you know today how to lovingly cuddle your children. May you know today how to associate with a little extra charity for the poor, the suffering, the derelict, the young, and you will have a sincere Christmas, a regenerating Christmas, a happy Christmas” (Pope St. Paul VI).
Christmas teaches us that God did not look down upon us and pass us by but rather, He assumed our nature and our human condition, in all things but sin. When the Word became flesh, it was God’s outrageous effort to be born among us and in our hearts. Jesus longs to be a light in each of our hearts. He knows about our darkness and wants to shine in our lives. We achieve the fulfillment of our destiny through the sincere gift of self, a gift that is made possible only through our encounter with God. Jesus, in the crib, shows us the way of tenderness to be close to each other, to be human.
Nativity Prayer of St. Bernard of Clairvaux
“Let your goodness Lord appear to us, that we, made in your image, may conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength, we cannot imitate your majesty, power, and wonder nor is it fitting for us to try. But your mercy reaches from the heavens through the clouds to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child, but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts, the gift of eternal love. Caress us with your tiny hands, embrace us with your tiny arms, and pierce our hearts with your soft, sweet cries.”