Christmas 2020: Editorial

You have made their joy increase (Isaiah 9:3)

Christmas gives us a story that tells us something wonderful and surprising! God does not swoop into our lives like a celebrity personality. God does not devise a master plan of slick strategy. God quietly tip-toes into each one’s bedlam of Bethlehem as a baby! In fans is the Latin for infant. It literally means speechless. Imagine – God’s Word is rendered silent in the Christmas story. The Christmas story doesn’t offer a dogmatic explanation of theological definitions. The Christmas story has started a revolution of tenderness, to use a phrase from the writings of Pope Francis. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Christmas tells us that what matters to us is of concern to God. Christmas tells us of a God who is completely committed to the weakest.

Christmas tells us of a God whose power makes us faithful, generous and peaceful. Christmas tells us of a God whose presence chips away our deceptive delusions.

Christmas tells us that there is a place for our values and ideals in a chaotic world. Christmas tells us of God’s constant love in a world of rapid upheaval.

Christmas offers us a space that is a true place of belonging. Christmas invites us to take our rightful place around the altar of welcome.

Christmas celebrates thanks, forgiveness, sacrifice and communion. Christmas reaches out to all without judgement – because of who you are. Christmas transforms the stable of our hearts into the sanctuary of God’s presence.

There is no door into the stable at Bethlehem. No need to knock or key in a password or make an appointment to gain entrance. Anyone and everyone can come in, never be a stranger to stay and feel at home forever. God calls us to become children at the cradle of his Son. We grow into a glory that startles angels, dazzles shepherds and changes the lives of the wise men forever. We are invited to welcome God-with-us into the manger of our open hands.

Saint John of the Cross (1542-1591) whose feast we celebrate in mid-December has a relevant message for us today – 430 years after his death. He was a man who suffered not only for the reform of the monastic life of his day. He also worked to rescue spirituality from the fickleness of self-indulgent blasé answers. His poetry and his writings on prayer give a focus to gospel discipleship and the centrality of the dogma of the heart. For him, Church dogmas live at first in the hearts of believers. We often say that the heart has its own reasons, which the intellect does not know. We can also say that the heart has its own dogmas, which theological reasoning does not know! Here is a final word from Saint John of the Cross …

So God henceforth will be human and human beings will be caught up in God. He will stay with them always, the same forever alongside them, until this world is wrapped up and done with.

Fr John Cullen