1st Friday of the Christmas Season
Memorial of St. John Neumann
1 John 3:11-21; John 1:43-51
As the Christmas festivities draw to a close, it would be good for us to ponder the mystery of divine love that has been presented to us in the babe of Bethlehem. When deepest darkness enveloped the world, the Wisdom of the Father bounded from His heavenly throne and as Light from Light enlightened the minds of all who would seek Him from the depths of their hearts. On that most holy of nights, the heavens proclaimed the glory of God and the heavenly host announced the birth of Messiah, God with Us. The Spirit of God that overshadowed the Virgin of Nazareth whereby she conceived the Son of God, has planted in our hearts the seed of divine love whereby we can bring wandering humanity home.
In his first epistle, the apostle John wanted to help the Church grasp the certainty of salvation flowing from the unfathomable love of the Father, which is the anchor of our hope. The mystery of the Incarnation makes it clear that the Word became Flesh without the help or effort of man. God so loved the world that He deigned to become one of us and to journey with us all the days of our lives, not only when we are faithful, but also when we wander from the path of righteousness. John addressed this issue when he wrote: “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything”(1 John 3:19-20).
In this we discover that God’s ways are differ from our ways. Our world thrives on punishment and retribution. God does not. Even when our hearts condemn us, this sentence is not the last word. God’s infinite mercy is greater than our heart and it is His judgment that ultimately matters. Because He knows everything, He can redeem the person who feels guilty and inadequate, weak and insecure, discouraged and hopeless. Our feelings do not change reality, and they do not influence the way God thinks about us. The Word became Flesh to show us that God is with us despite our weakness. We are called to follow in the footsteps of Christ with all our weaknesses, failings and sins. Since He knows us, let us strive to know Him.
I would like to share with you the 1971 Christmas reflection of Blessed Paul VI.: “God could have come wrapped in glory, splendor, light and power, to instill fear, to make us rub our eyes in amazement. But instead he came as the smallest, the frailest and weakest of beings. Why? So that no one would be ashamed to approach him, so that no one would be afraid, so that all would be close to him and draw near him, so that there would be no distance between us and him. God made the effort to plunge, to dive deep within us, so that each of us, each of you, could speak intimately with him, trust him, draw near him and realize that he thinks of you and loves you … He loves you! Think about what this means! If you understand this, if you remember what I am saying, you will have understood the whole of Christianity.”