Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Blessed Christmas! Today we reflect on the meaning of the day. In all the Christian churches throughout the world, we will hear explanations in different words of what Jesus means to us. One of the blogs on Christmas quoted St. Augustine: "Let us rejoice and give thanks that we have become not only Christians but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ."
We talk much of what Christ means in our life, but if we ask Catholics what model would they take in life to follow, rarely would you hear the name of Jesus. We have made him an object of our adoration, of our praise and piety--all right and good, but we have forgotten that we are born in baptism to become other Christs.
The words we know well, but it's a big leap for us to use them to motivate what we do in our lives. The emphasis is on God's graces, which may make us passive, just waiting for something to happen. Grace is also always moving us to act: study, listen, relate, love, serve---these things we often forget.
God came to earth so that we can partake of his divinity. And when we attend Mass we are reminded of the symbolism inherent in the celebration of the Mass. During the offertory, for example, when the water is mixed with the wine, we read: "By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity" (2 Peter 1-4). Similar symbolic language is present throughout the liturgy.  

Today is our special feast day. We have been born to be other Christs and to follow his way of life. We all know this intellectually but, sadly, it is not part of our affective life.
Understanding the symbolism used by the Church, especially in the liturgy, brings greater depth to our Christian life but at times symbolism can be a stumbling block for the literal-minded person and an idol for the overly pious. However, symbolic language has a great deal to teach us; without it life would be very insipid. Can we image life without the handshake, bow, kiss, eating together, and without language itself, which of course is also symbolic.  Catholics have also the Sacraments, which make us more aware that all of life is a symbol of God's love for us. Without the understanding of symbolism, some have maintained, the deeper dimensions of life cannot be understood and appreciated.
When we look at the crib(the trough) this year, let us direct our minds to look more deeply into its symbolism to appreciate fully what St. Luke wanted us to understand. Merry Christmas!

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