Fr. Kevin’s Column 12/27/2020

Dear friends of God,

Merry Christmas! I hope that the four weeks of Advent have been good preparation for the arrival of Christ in our world. Our annual Advent sojourn reminds us that as Catholic Christians we believe in three comings of Christ.

  • At Christmas we remember in a loving way the birth of the child Jesus 2,000 years

Trappist Father Thomas Merton offers this image for us to contemplate this Christmas:

The Child that lies in the manger, helpless and abandoned to the love of His creatures, dependent entirely upon them to be fed, clothed, and sustained, remains the Creator and Ruler of the universe. … He wills to be helpless that we may take Him into our care. He has embraced our poverty … in order to give us his riches.

  • During Advent, we annually remember the challenging truth that at the end of the age, we will be judged by how we love as Christ calls us to love.

James Finley, a psychologist and teacher of meditation in our Catholic tradition reminds us that:

In the light of eternity, we’re here for a very short time, really. We’re here for one thing, ultimately: to learn how to love, because God is love. Love is our origin, love is our ground, and love is our destiny.

God will call the nations together and challenge us on how we have loved. In particular, how we have reached out in love to the least of Christ’s sisters and brothers.

  • Everyday God is born within our hearts. We are continually ebbing and flowing between Advent and Christmas, between preparing for the Christ and welcoming him into our hearts and our lives. This is the stuff that makes up the Christian life: making our world and our hearts spacious for God and giving God the room to change us into God’s beloved people and the sisters and brothers of Jesus

Thomas Merton put it this way when writing about Advent:

The Advent mystery in our own lives is the beginning of the end of all, in us, that is not yet Christ.

Even though we are now immersing ourselves in the Christmas Season, I am still thinking about Advent. Advent often gets short-changed during the worldly Christmas that begins way before the Christian celebration of the Nativity of the Lord. The bond between Advent and Christmas reminds us that Christ really never leaves us. God is always in our midst.

Father Karl Rahner (“Encounters with Silence,” 1937), the great Jesuit theologian, observed in a prayer that when we say “Christ will come again,” – “again” is misleading because Christ has never really gone away Rahner reminds us. In his human existence Christ has never left us. Christ’s coming is always present and will someday come to fulfillment. It is not a matter of will Christ come – He will! The question is: how will we receive him? This is not merely a season of jingles and slogans. It’s not a nostalgic trip down memory lane, recalling Christmas from a more innocent, youthful past. Christ’s coming is a call to renewal and to transformation.

The three “comings of the Christ” are always interconnected in the same way that our personal relationships with God are connected to our relationship to each other as we build the body of Christ in world. Christ’s birth in Bethlehem inaugurated God’s Rule. It initiated a life of transformation for each of us that began at our own births as we prepare to be more Christ- like in our lives as we live the Kingdom of God in our midst.

 

As we continue on our Christ-like path during this Christmas season, let us take time to recognize Christ in our hearts, in our neighbors, and the poor and the powerless. Let us celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace by seeking to be peaceful people in a world of conflict.

 

Much love,

Father Kevin