Monday, December 24, 2007

In Nativitate Domini: Ad Missam in die

(Nativity of the Lord, Mass during the day)

Everyone needs a way to express themselves, an outlet for self-expression. It might be music or art or a hobby, or just a place and time during our schedules when we can relax and just be ourselves. It’s important. We need to express ourselves in order to be fully alive.

God is no exception. And I suggest to you that on this solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, we celebrate the feast of God’s self-expression. God is a Goodness so good and a Love so loving that it overflows. God overflows into a self-expression we call God’s Word, the Word that God speaks forth from the beginning of time. As John says, “In the beginning was the Word.” From the very beginning God has been a God of overflowing communication.

In the creation story we hear how God created the world through his Word. You remember, at the very beginning God said, “Let there be light,” and so it happened. And so it went through everything God created. God spoke, and the divine power of his Word made it happen. So let us always appreciate the creation around us, for it is the overflowing self-expression of the goodness of God.

But now, in the fullness of time, the same self-expression of God is born as one of us. We just heard it in the prologue to the Gospel of John: “And the Word became flesh, and his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”

When we fall in love with someone, we want nothing more than to be close to them, to be near them. And what greater sign could there be of God’s love for us than God coming near to us as one of us? Indeed, my friends, the Incarnation of the Word of God, the appearance on earth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the revelation of God falling in love anew with the humanity he created.

The birth of Jesus Christ reveals to us, in our own humanity, what the love of God is like. And if you look over to the right of the sanctuary [to the Nativity scene and the big crucifix] it becomes very clear. Here we have the two most important images of what God is like: First, a baby born away from home, in the poverty of stable, to young, poor parents. Second, a grown man, dying on the Cross, breaking his body and giving his life for the life of the world. God comes to us not as someone grand and awe-inspiring and powerful, but as someone vulnerable and poor.

This baby born in poverty and this man being executed on the Cross, these are the revelation of God’s idea of what it means to be a human being. And as soon as we can learn just a little bit of that humility before creation and before one another, God will be able to save the world in no time.

Behold the humble God! Behold the God who, when he expresses his own heart of love, a poor baby in a stable and a condemned, humiliated man on the Cross come out.

And as we marvel at the humility of God in his birth among us in the Nativity, we marvel as well at the humble God who comes to us as our bread of life in this Eucharist. As he sanctified our flesh by being born in our humanity in, so he sanctifies us again by giving us his body as our true food from this altar.


Tausign said...

"We adore You hidden in the manger"

Franciscans are just a bunch of 'gazers' ya know.

Blessed and Merry Christmas Charles of New Haven

Charles of New Haven said...

True that, Brother.