Am I more focused on presents or on Presence?
I am sure most if not all of us have seen them: commercials where people are ecstatically presenting material gifts to their loved ones that defy most practical reason— for example, automobiles “wrapped” in a bow. I am sure there are a small number of people who actually make such purchases. I can only think they do not reside in our parish. They certainly are not living on Spink Street or virtually any of the residences immediately surrounding our church campus.
I do not wish to be a humbug-chanter! Indeed, wrapped packages can be a sign of generosity and affection for loved ones, a reflection of the extreme and sublime generosity of our Lord God, who has bestowed on us the gift of His Son. However, I believe we need to be humble enough to acknowledge that any gift we present in these days of Christmas registers low on the scale, in contrast to the presence of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. Without Him, the deepest sentiments within the human soul would be without worth.
As we welcome extended family into our homes this Christmas, and as we rejoice at the swelling of those who join us for worship, we pray not to create the principle impression of “do not overstay your welcome!” May we not give Jesus reason to conclude that we can only handle Him in small doses, acceptable as long as he is a cute infant in the crib but not interested in what he says to us as a full-grown adult who needs to challenge and, at times, even chastise us for our selfishness.
“God’s sign is the baby in need of help and in poverty. Exactly the same sign has been given to us…. God’s sign is simplicity….God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us. This is how he reigns. He does not come with power and outward splendor. He comes as a baby — defenseless and in need of our help. He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength. He takes away our fear of his greatness. He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child. He wants nothing other from us than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into his feelings, his thoughts, and his will—we learn to live with him and to practice with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love. God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him, and love him…. Christmas has become the feast of gifts in imitation of God who has given himself to us. Let us allow our heart, our soul, and our mind to be touched by this fact!”
— from the MIDNIGHT MASS, SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Peace and Joy to All,