So often good people like yourselves think about how they are to love God and others and translate that into action. This is important and central in our Faith and Christian Life.
Christmas though is first and foremost about God loving us - God reaching out to us in the best way ever. The next step is ours, to be in awe and wonder at this mystery. Then our response to love God and others in practical ways, will certainly follow.
God didn’t need us to be happy. God is perfectly happy. However he wanted to share his happiness and his many gifts, so he created us, the world and the universe. God reached out to us as it were.
God has never stopped reaching out to us. The author of Hebrews states “At many moments in the past and by many means, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our time, the final days, he has spoken to us in the person of his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things and through whom he made the ages”. (1:1-4) God intervened in the world in so many ways in the Old Testament. He intervened fully in human history by sending his only Son.
The Incarnation is a great mystery. We cannot plumb the depths of it. We can only stand there in awe. That our infinite God even bothers - fancy that! At this time, and for the days following, let’s reflect quietly on this great truth and mystery.
One simple thing the Incarnation means is that God is so near. There is an Irish saying “The help of God is as close as the door”. Imagine that! Sit on a chair and look at the door of the room. It is very close. God is not in some other Country or just in the capitals of our country or even downtown - but right here, right now.
As our Creator, God is close. The Incarnation is saying much more. It is God reaching out to us, being one with us in our human nature in the person of his Son.
Therefore when I turn to God for help, God is already there offering help.
When I ask for God’s forgiveness, God IS there already just wanting to give it. There is no bargaining or grovelling required, but a lavish God bursting to give it.
When I ask for guidance, the Holy Spirit is there, working within me already in so many ways.
My asking is just opening up myself to Jesus and his help, his forgiveness, and his guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.
Christmas - the Incarnation - is not just God reaching out 2,000 years ago and at certain times. It means now God is with us now. Jesus is there within us in the Presence and Power of his Spirit.
We don’t even have to look to the door - just within ourselves. Jesus is all round us for sure - and equally within.
All that I have said about God’s love for us, I believe is putting the horse before the cart. However the cart needs to follow, otherwise the picture or rather God’s plan is not complete.
The cart I refer to is ‘love of others’, and especially the care for the poor as Pope Francis keeps putting to us in many ways.
Because of Christmas and Jesus being intimately one with us, we now are the hands, the feet, the voice, the heart of Christ for others as St Teresa of Avila and many Saints tell us.
Whenever then we reach out to others, our loved ones and the needy, Christ truly reaches out in us to them.
A very happy Christmas to one and all.
+ Bishop Justin