FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
Bishop Rene Henry Gracida
THE LORD SAID TO ME:
YOU ARE MY SON.
IT IS I WHO HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU THIS DAY.
Introit / Psalm 2:7
May the peace of this Holy Night and Day be with you, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Not the least aspect of the mystery of the incarnation and birth of Our Savior Jesus Christ is the reality that he came to redeem the human race as a man, born as a helpless infant like the rest of us, grew up through the trials and tribulations of adolescence, became an adult and after thirty-three years of experiencing life like all of us, with the exception of sinning, he offered himself up on the cross as a sacrifice for our redemption from sin.
Why didn’t he come as a full-grown man instead of a baby?
We moderns are tempted to wonder about that, accustomed as we are to instant everything.
We have instant food, instant drinks, instant communication, we get upset when our computers and other electronic devices do not turn on instantaneously but instead take a few seconds to turn on.
Our impatience even extends to our inter-personal relationships. We seek instant gratification and happiness. We are unwilling to expend the time and effort it takes to build lasting relationships, especially in a marriage. We are a spoiled generation.
Jesus chose to experience all that we experience over a span of thirty-three years so that when he offered himself up on the cross he did so truly as one of us, a human being. The Liturgy for the Vigil of Easter Sunday sings of the beautiful reality that sin entered the world figuratively on the wood of the tree in the Garden of Eden and it became possible for us to achieve everlasting life through his death on the tree of the cross.
When we look upon representations of the Christ Child lying in the crib our emotions blind us to the reality of the total innocence of the Christ Child, free from the stain of original sin. That was not our own condition when we were a newborn infant, we were born with the disability of the loss of innocence by our first parents.
Thanks to the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, through our baptism we were cured of our disability and even though we still had the capacity to sin against God, Jesus had given us a means of obtaining forgiveness.
Reflecting on the thirty-three years of Our Lord’s life during which he experienced temptation to sin, even as we do, we gain the consolation to know that he understands perfectly our own struggles with temptation. How consoling it is as we go through life yearning for instant everything to know that Jesus chose to go through thirty-three years of experiencing life day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year as we are forced to do.
Yet, how much more blessed are we than the Israelites who, as we learn from the Old Testament, could not see God even though they yearned to see Him. Since seeing God in any full manifestation of his glory and power would have been fatal to humans, God on rare occasions manifested his presence by appearing as a pillar of fire, or a gentle breeze or a burning bush.
What a great gift we have in Jesus Christ! We can ‘see’ him in the Eucharist.
We can ‘see’ him represented on our crucifixes.
We can ‘see’ him in the relic of the Shroud of Turin.
We can ‘see’ him in the grace that is manifested by persons who truly let him live in them.
Seeing him in such a manner should remind us to be patient and to let God’s grace work its miracle in us, not instantaneously as we might wish, but in God’s own good time.
Yesterday I posted an article on my Blog, Abyssum.org, written by Allison Wiggins.
In her article she told how she had tried to win over two friends who were more than a little hostile to the Catholic Church and the faith of Catholics. She tried everything to win them over but failed again and again. Allison, like the rest of us was probably spoiled by our ‘instant’ culture. Then one day unexpectedly her friends asked to accompany her to midnight Mass on Christmas eve.
At the Mass, after the consecration, she glanced at her friends and was startled to see both of them crying. She knew immediately that Our Lord present in the Eucharist had accomplished what she had failed to accomplish over an extended period of time.
They lingered in the church after the Mass and Allison was shocked when her friends told her that they wanted to convert and become Catholics; within a few months they were received in the Church.
‘Instant’ may be possible with God, but it is not usually part of human experience even though we wish it were.
Keep in mind that, as Saint Luke tells us, the Child Jesus “grew in wisdom, age and grace” and that took time, thirty-three years to be exact.
Trust God. Do not be impatient with God. In God’s own good time you will receive what you pray for if it is to work for your salvation and not essentially just for your pleasure.
May the blessings of Jesus Christ, he who will continue to be ‘reborn’ in the lives of men until the end of the world, be with you as you celebrate his birth this Christmas!
In the name of the Father
and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit,