Christmas

What is Advent?

I watched a great video from Ascension Presents today (link below) and just wanted to share my basic realisation from it.

In lent, we enter into Jesus’s poverty and join ourselves to Him on the cross; in advent, we enter into our own poverty, and pray for Jesus to come into our poverty. In lent, we die to ourselves in order to live truly in Christ; in advent, we experience the darkness of where Christ is not present, and we wait and beg Him to come. Our lenten penance is the expression of our Christian life, and sanctifies and perfects us; our advent practices are the best efforts of sinners, attempting to make space, to prepare a way, for the desperately needed saviour.

This may be why Christmas and its build up have retained their hold on a secular world far more than lent and Easter: advent and the hope of Christmas belongs to those who are still waiting for a saviour. And maybe we shouldn’t be concerned by the Christmas songs on the radio earlier every year, maybe that is a sign that our society is longing more deeply for Christmas with all its joys, with Jesus at the very centre of them all.

God bless you.

Merry Christmas! (sorry it’s late)

Sorry for the recent radio silence. There’s no particular reason for it.

I just thought I’d deliver the yearly reminder that on Christmas day, approximately 2,019 years ago, God was born amongst us as a teeny tiny baby. Almighty God hid Himself in the Blessed Virgin’s womb. The Lord God of Hosts was wrapped in swaddling bands. The creator of the universe was nestled up in Joseph’s arms.

It’s true that this post has missed the big day, but the magi are running later still! The divine babe is still newborn, and hasn’t even received His name yet.

We shouldn’t shy away from the absurdity of the Incarnation. Who in their right mind would ever worship a newborn (or even, unborn) baby as the omnipotent creator of all? What kind of God would genuinely become a human, with all of our weakness and suffering and vulnerability? The God who is love would.

Love unites the lover to the beloved. Love condescends. Love is vulnerable. Love is weak. Love is small. Love is dependent. Love is almighty.

God is not a philanthropist, trying to better everyone’s lives from the outside: He is the lover of us, and desires to give Himself to us entirely. He loves us!

Can you imagine if we loved Him like He loves us? Can you imagine how differently we would live? Can you imagine how happy we would be?

May the Christchild bless you!

Newborn

Each Christmas, we celebrate the newly born Jesus, much as we celebrate any child’s birth. We gaze at the child, with that sacred awe, wonder and love. There is a new soul, seeing the world for the first time. A new person, with the potential to become anyone. A new human, free from the scars of life’s suffering and sin. A new beginning for humanity, with endless possibilities.

So what makes Jesus special then? How come we celebrate Him as a newborn, when we know He is something far greater than any other?

Firstly, Jesus is perfectly free from original sin. Jesus’s and Mary’s births are without any stain of sin, whereas every other birth, has that seed of corruption, waiting to destroy the young soul and the whole world with it. Even after baptism, we retain the stain of sin, and our nature’s inclination towards it. Jesus and Mary are perfectly free of humanity’s corruption.

Secondly, and more importantly, Jesus is God’s own newborn son, from all eternity. He is the definitive newborn child.

He is born of God from all eternity, and all things are born of God in Him. He is the firstborn of creation, and the unity of all things. The newness in the child Jesus is all the newness, all the freshness, all the life, of the entire universe. This child contains everything, everyone, every height and depth, past, present and future.

We are in a way reborn in the eyes of every new born child. But in Jesus’s birth, we are truly recreated, because His new gaze contains us perfectly.

At His birth we see the entire Cosmos bending over the manger to gaze upon him: a star of heaven moves in order to watch over Him; the wise come from afar to honour Him; the simple leave their flocks to adore Him; the ox and lamb share His presence; and by the cave He was born in, the very earth itself leans over to get a look.

We don’t celebrate Jesus’s birthday at Christmas, we celebrate His birth. We don’t put 2,018 candles on a cake for Him, or get Him a birthday card, because this day doesn’t mark Him getting older. We celebrate His birth, His being given to the world, and our being reborn in Him. He is the eternal Newborn Child, and has never and will never grow old.

So it is perfectly correct for us to gaze on Jesus as being a newly born baby. He is true God and true man, but you will not find His divinity except in His humanity.

God bless, and merry Christmas!

How does Baby Jesus love us?

At mass on Christmas day, I wondered, how does the newborn Jesus love us? What does it mean that He loves us?

Babies are sort of pathetic (in the nicest way). They pretty much do nothing, apart from eating, sleeping and crying. They are dependent on others for literally everything.

This is how the newborn Jesus loves us. Not by being powerful and doing us favours, but by being powerless, giving Himself into our hands and accepting our care.

Jesus gives Himself away, and opens Himself to receive us. Whoever welcomes Him with their care, is more truly being welcomed into Him.

Merry Christmas and God bless, to you and your kin!

The flesh of God

I really wanted to write a perfect post for Christmas. I wanted to condense the mystery of the Incarnation into one short post, to blow minds and set hearts on fire. And every time I approached the mystery, I thought, Ah! Now I’ve got it! Only to find my words still fall an infinite distance short of the reality I was beginning to see.

I was trying to do the impossible, because the mystery of the Incarnation is the mystery of the Word made flesh, and cannot be expressed except by that flesh. So instead, I invite us to come close to His very flesh. His flesh is the Word we must listen to. No fact about His flesh, no concept of His flesh, but His very flesh.

Where can we find the flesh of Jesus? In the Eucharist, in our neighbours in their poverty, in the Church by Her love, and in our hearts by our faith. These are the places we must go to this Christmas, to find and adore our new born king. These are the places we must touch God’s flesh, and so hear His Word.

Happy Christmas and God bless you!

He’s coming

I’ve been feeling pretty adventy (adventurous?) for a few weeks now, so I’m pretty happy it’s now officially advent, and we’re all waiting together.

What I mean is, I’ve been feeling the need for Christ to come lately. There’s so much in the world that just doesn’t make sense, so much sin and meaningless suffering, and it’s been getting to me. I can’t stand it. And so I’ve found myself thinking, when is Jesus coming to sort this out? And thinking about how great it will be when He does.

Advent has confirmed this desire in me, for Christ’s glorious return and judgment, and has also reminded me, that He has already come, and He comes still, and we’re not just passive observers of His coming. I have to do my part. I must prepare the way of the Lord, into my heart, by repentance. And I must welcome Him, recognising His voice, His presence. And I must bear Him to the world with love, magnifying Him and rejoicing in Him.

Repent, welcome, and bear. Repent, clearing away every obstacle, filling in valleys and levelling mountains, so He can march straight in. Welcome, because He’s already here, so we must say our Fiat, let it be done to me, according to Your word, submitting to His will. Bear, carrying  Him with us to the world’s sin and suffering, because He is already with us, and that is what He came for.

To repent is to turn towards Him, to welcome is to listen to Him, to bear Him is to live in love with Him.

And so, by His grace, with our preparation, He comes to us, to our sin and suffering, and makes sense of it by His love, by His life, death and resurrection.

God bless you!

Christmas

There is no glory except in humiliation.
There is no God except Him who became flesh.
There is no holiness except through sin.
There is no riches except poverty.
There is no light but the light in the dark.
There is no home but the homeless King.
There is no life but through death.
And all this by the initiative of God, with the lowly maiden’s assent.

image

God bless you

The Sorrow of Christmas

Among my favourite Christmas songs are ‘I believe in Father Christmas’ by Greg Lake, and ‘Mad World’ by Gary Jules. If you don’t know them, they’re really, really sad songs. I like when they interrupt the merry, joyful, and jubilant songs.

Why?

Because they remind me that in the light of Christmas, the suffering of the world is absurd. Where is the peace for people of good will? If God became man, how do we allow such suffering? If God came to us as a babe in a manger, why is there such loneliness?

If God came down to earth, where is He when we need Him so much? And if we truly believe God was so close to us, how can we remain so far from each other, from those in need?

The feast of Christ the King reminds me that despite the madness of the world, victory is already won, on the cross and by our faith. But for now, by our faith (“the victory that has overcome the world” (1Jn 5:4)), we must continually bring Christ into the world, in expectation of and longing for his final return, when he will fill all in all. This is the great tension of Advent.

How do we bring Christ into the world? By abiding in him, that is, by loving as he loves. By receiving and sharing in his love. This is what Christmas demands.

We cannot believe that Christ is born, without bringing him to this suffering world. Nor can we be ready for him, except by being among the lowly with him.

I strongly encourage us to bring Christ this Advent. To open our hearts more than our wallets, and to join a suffering world. To lower ourselves with Jesus. To be a friend of outcasts.

Maranatha!