chaplains-cornerThe following is taken from a meditation given by Fr. Bruce Wren L.C. at Catholic Professionals of Illinois  Advent Retreat 2015 (Part 3)

What is really amazing finally is Christmas, what it means if we take it seriously!

The myth that people attempt to create around Christmas is the existence of a magically charitable world, in which we exchange gifts of a mythical cornucopia which spread happiness with a smile, and the deer who steal (interesting that Santa Claus comes from Saint Nicholas, a Bishop of Asia minor), and without sacrifice or virtue.

In fact, Cardinal Ratzinger speaks of the custom of giving gifts, and it touches at the center of the Christian Mystery:

There is a great idea underlying the original custom (of giving gifts).  This child is God’s gift to mankind, and in that sense Christmas is the proper day for giving gifts.  But when the giving of presents becomes a matter of obligatory shopping trips, then the idea of presents is completely distorted…

But the true spirit of Christmas is something else.   It is to marvel at the ability of a human life which is total gift, Jesus, God made man, and this possibility to become sons of God,  to break the bonds of sad mortality (Greek) and existential boredom (Baudelaire and company) through love.  Here is the possibility that Christmas offers us. But yes, this is a love that demands discipline, the cross, forgetfulness of self, etc. Charles Moeller, in his book “Literature of the XX Century and Christianity,” says:

The law of the vital affirmation of the person, this law that dominates the world, must be substituted by a law of disinterested love. If the ancient proverb says:  ‘others make the misfortune of others,’ the new proverb should say:  ‘what makes the joy of some makes the joy of others.’  But to do this we would have to dissolve and recompose our inner being. . . .

How can we accomplish this “recomposing” of our inner situation?  Cardinal Ratzinger says in his discussion of Christmas:

The breakthrough to the new man takes place in Jesus Christ.  In him the real future of man, what has yet to be realized, what he can be and should be, has in fact begun.

In other words, if God really did become a man, then he has also pioneered a new path for all human beings, a possibility of becoming what our nature is “wired” for, but so far has been unable to do:  love!   A possibility to change our selfish nature our Baudelairian nature, if you allow me, into divine nature:

God becomes man; He who is the creator, the eternal Logos, comes down to enter into human existence and unites himself with it … comes into the world and becomes a man.  This opens up a dimension beside which the apparently immeasurable material dimensions of the universe represent a significantly lesser order of magnitude.

It is the possibility of John 1:12:  “But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God.”

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