We are now in the Season of Christmas, which runs from December 25th through January 8th, the Baptism of the Lord. For this season, a short video was created that includes a Lasallian perspective of the feast. The text of the reflection is below, and the video is HERE.
So what is it that we have been waiting for? Many people go through Advent like those who stand in a line without really knowing what’s at the end of it. But since it’s a line, they think that it must be something good. However, that may not always be the case. It depends on what you think of as “good.” A friend and I saw a line of mostly young people, several blocks long, on a shopping street in Boston. When we finally asked somebody what the line was for, we found out that it was a line to get some free lipstick! People happily wait in line for tickets, for Santa, for communion; but for lipstick?
In the case of Advent, the “good” is nothing less than the celebration that God is in our midst, that the Emmanuel – which is a name that means “God is with us” – has been realized, made real and physical and practical, in Jesus Christ. This Good News that we keep hearing about is not some insight, information, or special knowledge. Instead, the Good News is a real person, an actual somebody, who was conceived, born, lived, and died. He was also raised from death, body and soul, and he sent his Spirit so that we can be him for others, channeling God’s unique love, as it were, the kind of love that dwells in patience, sacrifice, and endurance. It is the kind of love that lies behind the deep and mysterious motives of activists and saints, parents, children, good friends. It’s the kind of love that makes little sense but brings great joy. It’s the kind of love that counts, stays when all else falls away; the kind that is the essence of genuine relationships. These endure. As Cardinal Francis George once said, “What we take with us from this life into the next are simply the relationships. Everything else disappears, but they are eternal.”
Now lots of people are willing to accept that Jesus was born, lived, and died. And they’re fine about that deep, mysterious power of genuine love. But it’s hard for them to see the middle piece – the fact that Jesus, that God, has redefined reality in such a radical way by actually, physically, becoming one of us and literally embracing us with real mercy and love. So how does that middle piece make any difference in our lives, or how can it?
Well, we are invited, in the second letter of Peter, to become “partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4) St. Athanasius wrote in the 4 th century, “God became man so that man might become god.” The fact of Jesus Christ – also called the incarnation – is an invitation to live within, and out of, a new reality, a new dimension of the universe, a new way of looking at things. It is an invitation into a very real, very practical, very personal relationship with God, with Jesus, one that will shape all other relationships, and an invitation into a very real, very practical community, one that will redefine the way that we see all other communities. St. John Baptist de La Salle makes it all very personal in his meditation for Christmas. He says, “For how long has Jesus been presenting himself to you and knocking at the door of your heart, in order to make his dwelling within you and you have not wanted to receive him?” (Med. 85.1)
Everyone expects a wonderful future of some kind, a time when our deepest desires are fulfilled. Jesus is an invitation to begin that future now. Anthony Bloom described this really well. While we await the day when God will come in glory, when God shall be all in all, we should realize, he says, that “already now God is in our midst; already now we have a vision of what each of us is by vocation and can be by participation. But this is an offer; God gives His love, God gives Himself – not only in the Holy Gifts of Communion, but in all possible ways He is ready to enter into our lives, to fill our hearts, to be enthroned in our minds, to be the will of our will. But to do that, to allow Him to do that, we must give ourselves to Him, we must respond to love by love, to faith – the faith which God has in us – by faith that is trust and faithfulness in Him. And then – then, we, each of us singly and all of us in our togetherness, will become God’s Kingdom
come with power, the beginning of the fullness of time.” That’s the difference Jesus makes.
So on Christmas we celebrate the Nativity of this reality in the newness and innocence of mother and child, bound in poverty and love; content, hopeful, joyful, expectant, and very much alive. The great invitation awaits. Now isn’t that something worth standing in line for?