Dear Companions on the Journey,
Last week’s column ended with: “It was not only the Child who was born that night. It was a whole new world, beginning not among those operating and managing the old order, but emerging from its victims in splendor and light…After their song they [the angels] left this earth. They must have thought that He together with us could be relied upon.”
In a few short days, Christmas will be upon us. For many of us this will be a relief more than a fulfillment. On Nativity Day, we can finally sit down, relax, and enjoy ourselves. Indeed, there is something very true and good about families enjoying one another on Christmas, savoring the love that is nurtured in such “golden moments.”
But if that is where such Advent preparation leads and leaves us, then somehow we have come up short of the very reason for the first Christmas. In the meditation quoted above, the author rightly situates this Christmas event in the middle of the political and religious events of the day: soldiers patrolling and government bureaucrats going about their business. With the exception of the angelic presence, there is not much that is romantic about that birth in the Bethlehem fields. Indeed, in our own day, for most of the children born this year and next, the picture of their birth will resemble Christ’s more closely than children born in our own country.
What do you think?
And let us pray for/with one another.
The Paulist Center
No, the realistic portrait of the birth of a child in the fields of Bethlehem should draw us more to the Christmas reality than the cozy Hallmark cards ever could. And that message is that God has taken up fleshly residence with us to show us a way to live, a way to struggle for one another’s dignity which is surprisingly bereft of angelic or other heavenly intervention. What was born with Jesus on the Judean Hills was a new way of looking at the world that would transform those who would share in that vision, the followers of that Child. The Child in the manger would invite us to imitate and follow him more than plasticize or admire him.
Yes, after their song, the angels leave the Messianic project to the Child and to us. Christ relies on us to keep that Christmas vision alive. We pray we might live up to His trust.