We celebrate the birth of Christ in our midst. And what a celebration it is! The joy of this occasion permeates the very air we breathe! It is reflected in the beauty around the altar, in the lights, and in the Christmas trees, all of this both inside and outside the Church. Every year I lose count of the people who tell me how much they love the trees outside. Once a couple even bought “swaddling clothes” to put on the outside baby Jesus in order to keep him warm! And I must say, their intention IS the heart of the Christmas season. They felt that they had to do something for Jesus, and this was the plan that they came up with. God bless them! And He will! The Lord will always bless the smallest desire to do good for Him, especially through others.
What can we do for Jesus this Christmas season so that we, too, can attract the Lord’s blessings?
To answer this question, the first thing to remember is that Christ took birth in the world so that He, in turn, could give birth to the Church. And as long as He remains the Head of the Church, it is as perfect as Himself. Of course, if we go by our own guidance, then we have replaced him with ourselves. Then the Church remains an imperfect human institution, nonetheless always maintaining the potential of becoming the perfect body of Christ’s original design.
That’s the see-saw of the life of the Church. It is an imperfect human institution with Christ’s very divine Life always present and manifesting in our sacraments, forming us through our reception of them to say “yes” to Him and His desires for us, and in this way experiencing what perfection could mean.
So, what can we do for Christ this year? We cannot all buy swaddling clothes for the manger outside, or for that matter, even for the one inside. Nonetheless, we can certainly all say “yes” to Him.
I don’t mind sharing with you what I think it would look like if we did all say “yes.” If we all did all say “yes,” whenever the world would look upon our Roman Catholic Church, they would marvel at the Love it would reflect, much in the same way the shepherds and the three Kings did when they looked upon Christ in the manger. The brightness of this so-called perfection would result from the collectivity of our accumulated decisions for love and forgiveness, and for our resulting acts of love and forgiveness.
Perhaps you may read this and feel that this invitation of mine is so much fantasy. But although I am aware of how readers may react, I still have to hold to my conviction and to share it in this short article. Why? We must begin with the truth that we are all forgiven by God, a most natural response from someone, God, who Loves each of us intensely. If we start here and hold on to it, we may recognize that if God gave us the Church, it would have to be by His design a resource for us, a veritable school of Love. If we take the time to read its teaching and reflect on it, and practice it, then we would be amazingly loving. I do believe that. It begins with each of us saying, “yes,” and to begin to reflect on what the Church teaches. Let’s all say “yes!”
Blessings, Fr. Walter