I wish you and your loved ones many blessings at the close of Advent, rich graces and abundant joy at Christmas and all through the Christmas season.
So much of what we remember and celebrate during the days ahead offers us an invitation to contemplate God’s love made visible and present to us in the Lord Jesus. He is God’s gracious offer and gift of salvation. In the Scriptures, at Eucharist, in communion with our neighbor, in service to the other, we can touch him, hear him, walk and serve with him. He is enfleshed. He is human. He is just like us.
The coming Christmas season offers a privileged time to renew our knowledge of, and friendship with, the Lord who came that we might have his joy and that our joy might be complete, who offers us the gift of his intimate and faithful friendship all the days of our lives.
The wonder of Emmanuel, God with us, is a mystery not easily grasped. Yet it is a reality that constantly invites a response from deep in our spirit. The offer of such companionship speaks to the heart and invites a response from us. Nothing is forced; nothing is imposed. It is rather an invitation: I offer you my friendship. Do you accept?
The vulnerable, totally dependent babe of Bethlehem, by his very being, invites us to approach him, to hold him, to caress him. The grown-up Jesus invites by his words, by his actions: What are you looking for? Come and see. Follow me. Do not be afraid. Come and pray with me.
And, while he is always inviting us, there are times when he is more aggressive. How many times do we read of the criticism he receives because he speaks and dines with the wrong kind of people? Yet, he does it saying that he came to call and save sinners. That’s his way of telling us indirectly and kindly that we too are the wrong kind of people, that we are sinners in need of the redemption that only he can offer.
It is indeed humbling to come face-to-face with that reality — especially in an age which extols self-sufficiency, the self-made person, individuals who lift themselves up by their own bootstraps. Humbling as it is, however, our recognition of our absolute need for God’s grace and mercy is ultimately a source of great confidence and freedom. Because we know that God will never be unfaithful to the promises that God makes to us in Jesus Christ.
This is a magnificent time of the year to appreciate the fact that the Word of God became like us in all things. In so doing, God gave to every person a profound, distinct dignity. And, by his passion, death and resurrection that Word who shared our humanity makes it possible for us to have a share in divine life.
I hope that grace of the season for all of us will be a growing awareness of our dignity in Christ. He so loved us that — even in our sin — he calls us continually to an abiding, intimate, never-ending friendship with him. How can we refuse?
Peace to all.