Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Christmas is a union with God


What is Christmas? 

Is it about the birth of Jesus or something more?

Perhaps a way to unpack the full meaning of Christmas is to look at it through the lens of a story.

One Christmas season a parish priest  brought together a number of parishioners to speak about the faithfulness of God. As the meeting proceeded the priest called on Pasquale, who was about to celebrate with his wife their fiftieth anniversary of marriage.  The priest invited him to share his secret how he had managed to stay married to the same woman all these years.

Pasquale was happy to oblige. “Wella, I’va tried to treat her nicea, spenda da money on her, but besta of all is, I tooka her to Italy for the 25th anniversary!

The priest responded, “Pasquale, you are an amazing inspiration to all the husbands here! Please tell us what you are planning for your 50th anniversary?” Pasquale proudly replied, ”I gonna go pick her up.”

I do not propose this as a way to achieve a long lasting marriage. But as you heard, this man remained married for many years, and likely many more. But he has no relationship with her. Apparently his secret for a long lasting relationship is to live apart.

I share this story with you because Christmas is about a marriage between God and humankind. As we know  from the very first book of the bible, Genesis, God wanted to treat us nice, give us the best of all, and invited us to live with him in the Garden of Eden.

But when we decided  we could have more, that we didn’t need God, we suddenly found ourselves living outside of Eden.

Even though our choice separated us from God, God continued to love us and looked for ways to bring us home. Our bible is full of stories how God sought ways to renew our relationship, where once again he would be our God and we his people.  

Sadly, there are also numerous biblical stories how we took God for granted in good times and then complained in bad times, where is God?

Despite our attitude, God didn’t give up. And so God on that first Christmas day chose to close the gap by becoming one of us, and as John’s gospel declares: The Word became Flesh.

As you can see from our biblical history we are all a little like Pasquale, believing the best way to maintain a long lasting relationship is to  keep our partner at a distance.

Like Pasquale, all of us have had various reasons to keep God at a distance. And none of our reasons for doing so is a surprise for God. This is why the Gospel of Matthew and Luke both begin with Jesus’ genealogy; his family tree, where we find a whole range of humanity, not only God’s faithful but adulterers, murders, rebels, conspirators. Transgressors of all sorts, both the fearful and the bold.

Three of my favourite ancestors of Jesus are Jacob, Ruth and David. Each of them reflect some of very human attitudes.  

For example,  some of us might feel like Jacob and because we have wrestled with our idea or faith in God. we are left spiritually wounded. The good news is that Christ is pleased to be born to all those who are struggling with life or crippled spiritually.

Perhaps we feel like RUTH, an outsider to the church. Yet God chose her, a Moabite woman, an outsider and enemy of Israel, to become the great-great-grandmother of King David. The good news is that Christ is pleased to welcome those who feel they don’t belong.

Others might feel unworthy like King David. A man of many accomplishments, but as an adulterer and a murderer, he felt unworthy. The good news is that Christ always welcomes sinners.

At times some of us might feel like Azor, Zadok and Achim, we are part of the family tree of Jesus, but no one knows us. The good news is that Christ wants to know us and invite us to his family dinner, the Mass.

In the genealogy of Jesus we meet many flawed characters. All of them offered excuses for keeping their distance from God, yet God saw them as family.

And the amazing thing is when God joined the human family as an infant born in Bethlehem, we became brothers and sisters of Jesus, the Son of God. Our names are added to his family tree. There is nothing that can change that. The good news of Christmas and the reason to celebrate is that there is no separation between God, creation ad us. When we say, “It is Christmas” we mean that God has spoken his most  beautiful word, and that word, means “I love you.”


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