Christmas, a longing for good news!
"Do not be afraid, for I bring you great joy." (Lk 2:10).
The times in which we live are very complex; fear and fragility seem to have driven out courage and enthusiasm for life. This pandemic has made it difficult, if not impossible, to do what used to be normal - to be together every day with an open heart and to reach out to others with kindness.
When we encounter the mystery of Christmas, however, our eyes are opened to what is essential and, renewed; we see the importance of life in all its dimensions, in all its horizons.
In the Prologue (Gospel of John 1:1-18), the author draws our attention to the "word becoming incarnate in our humanity"; God takes "form" in our humble lives. "The Word became flesh" (Jn, 1:14); and I particularly like the second part of the verse, "...he came to dwell among us"... dwelling in our past, in our times, in our contradictions and frustrations and to transform them into real opportunities for rebirth.
Sometimes we feel powerless and unable to face the new "urgencies" that arise - social and ecclesial - as if they were places where it is impossible to be.
Let us look instead to Him, the Word. He has chosen to dwell in our time, and to ask each of us to witness the power of this salutary event.
In her chapter of 28 December 1879, Mother Marie-Eugénie tells us,
"I feel inclined to recommend to you when you go to to adore the Child Jesus in his cot, to think always, or at least often, that this child is the Eternal One, the Almighty, that the one who is there so small, so lowly, is the Immortal King of the ages."
If the Son of God threw himself wholeheartedly into the world and its affairs, we too must feel fully immersed in what is happening every day and share with confidence the expectations and hopes of people, especially the poorest.
He came to inhabit this place of ours, the Earth, with all its humanity, to embody the beauty and difficulty of daily life, welcoming God's gift with joy and simplicity.
An ancient Christmas legend comes to mind,
"On the night of Jesus' birth, the angels brought the Good News to the shepherds, and they went to the cave with various gifts. Each one had brought what he had - some the fruit of their labour, others something precious. But while they all gave generously, one very poor shepherd had nothing... nothing to offer, and while everyone competed to present their gifts, he stood aside in shame...
After a while, Joseph and the Virgin found it difficult to receive all these gifts, especially Mary, who also had to hold the Child. Then, seeing this shepherd with empty hands, the Virgin asked him to come closer and placed Jesus in his hands.
When the shepherd received the Child Jesus, he realised that he had something he did not deserve, that he was holding in his hands the greatest gift of all times. He looked at his hands - hands that had always seemed empty - they had become the cradle of God.
He felt so loved that, overcoming his shame, he began to present the Child Jesus to others, because he could not keep the Gift of Gifts to himself.
Each one of us is invited this Christmas to overcome our difficulties, to rush to the grotto, with open hands and a heart full of joy to welcome the Child Jesus.
SISTER Carmela Pacenza
Province of Europe