Sunday Scriptures: John 3:16

» 14 March 2015 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

This Sunday’s Gospel (for the Fourth Sunday of Lent) is one of the most famous passages, if not the most famous passage, in the entire Bible. The passage in question, of course, is from Chapter Three of John’s Gospel. This section contains the single most memorable verse in Scripture for most people in the culture at large. This, of course, is John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.

One reason this verse is so ubiquitous is that it’s often displayed on “bedsheet banners” at sporting events. It has been called “the Bible in a nutshell” and “the Gospel in a nutshell”. And this is Good News indeed: by Jesus’ Passion, death, and Resurrection, God has made it possible for us to obtain forgiveness of our sins and attain eternal life and friendship with God.

But one thing that many people don’t focus on is what comes after John 3:16. So many remember John 3:16, but so few think about John 3:18, which, we musn’t forget, is just as much God’s word as John 3:16 is. Here’s John 3:18:

Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

The “flipside” of the Good News is the Bad News: not everyone goes to heaven. In fact, the Good News of the Gospel wouldn’t be so good if that sad truth were not a reality.

And people, if they are thinking properly, absolutely cannot blame God for the fact that many are not saved. As a priest friend said in a homily last week, God had a choice: to either create a world with love, or a world without love. To love requires freedom. Freedom means that one can say “no”. No to God, and no to love. “The door to hell is locked from the inside”, wrote C.S. Lewis. In other words, people send themselves to hell by freely rejecting the salvation Christ offers.

This should cause us to redouble our efforts to not only do penance for family and friends who are far from the Lord this Lent, but to share the Good News with them, too!

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Pope Francis and the “globalization of indifference”

» 25 February 2015 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

In the previous post, we talked about the Holy Father’s Message for Lent this year – specifically, the section aimed at local Catholic parishes. There was an intriguing phrase Pope Francis used in the letter, and it’s becoming one of the themes of his pontificate: namely, what he calls the “globalization of indifference”. This is one of the Pope’s great concerns on the global level, but what exactly does he mean by this? The problem, as he notes, begins with individuals. Let us carefully read his own words on this subject (again, from his Lenten Message):

Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each community and every believer. Above all it is a “time of grace” (2 Cor 6:2). God does not ask of us anything that he himself has not first given us. “We love because he first has loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). He is not aloof from us. Each one of us has a place in his heart. He knows us by name, he cares for us and he seeks us out whenever we turn away from him. He is interested in each of us; his love does not allow him to be indifferent to what happens to us. Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure…our heart grows cold. As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront.

When the people of God are converted to his love, they find answers to the questions that history continually raises. One of the most urgent challenges which I would like to address in this Message is precisely the globalization of indifference. Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience. God is not indifferent to our world; he so loves it that he gave his Son for our salvation. In the Incarnation, in the earthly life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, the gate between God and man, between heaven and earth, opens once for all. The Church is like the hand holding open this gate, thanks to her proclamation of God’s word, her celebration of the sacraments and her witness of the faith which works through love (cf. Gal 5:6). But the world tends to withdraw into itself and shut that door through which God comes into the world and the world comes to him. Hence the hand, which is the Church, must never be surprised if it is rejected, crushed and wounded. God’s people, then, need this interior renewal, lest we become indifferent and withdraw into ourselves.

Pope Francis writes in a very clear, immediate style, so it is not at all difficult to understand his emphasis here. May we take his words to heart this Lent, and firmly reject the selfishness that makes us so indifferent to God and others. Let us allow God to renew us as we begin our joyful journey towards Easter!

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Pope Francis’ Lenten Message

» 23 February 2015 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

Pope Francis’ Lenten Message for 2015 offers much to reflect on and put into practice. In the next few posts, we’ll look at some of the key themes the Holy Father wants the faithful to focus on this Lent.

The following is the section of his message specifically directed to parishes. The Pontiff calls local parishes to become “islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference”. This ties into a larger theme of his, which is the “globalization of indifference”.

“Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9)– Parishes and Communities

All that we have been saying about the universal Church must now be applied to the life of our parishes and communities. Do these ecclesial structures enable us to experience being part of one body? A body which receives and shares what God wishes to give? A body which acknowledges and cares for its weakest, poorest and most insignificant members? Or do we take refuge in a universal love that would embrace the whole world, while failing to see the Lazarus sitting before our closed doors (Lk 16:19-31)? In order to receive what God gives us and to make it bear abundant fruit, we need to press beyond the boundaries of the visible Church in two ways. In the first place, by uniting ourselves in prayer with the Church in heaven. The prayers of the Church on earth establish a communion of mutual service and goodness which reaches up into the sight of God. Together with the saints who have found their fulfilment in God, we form part of that communion in which indifference is conquered by love. The Church in heaven is not triumphant because she has turned her back on the sufferings of the world and rejoices in splendid isolation. Rather, the saints already joyfully contemplate the fact that, through Jesus death and resurrection, they have triumphed once and for all over indifference, hardness of heart and hatred. Until this victory of love penetrates the whole world, the saints continue to accompany us on our pilgrim way. Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church, expressed her conviction that the joy in heaven for the victory of crucified love remains incomplete as long as there is still a single man or woman on earth who suffers and cries out in pain: “I trust fully that I shall not remain idle in heaven; my desire is to continue to work for the Church and for souls” (Letter 254, July 14, 1897). We share in the merits and joy of the saints, even as they share in our struggles and our longing for peace and reconciliation. Their joy in the victory of the Risen Christ gives us strength as we strive to overcome our indifference and hardness of heart.

In the second place, every Christian community is called to go out of itself and to be engaged in the life of the greater society of which it is a part, especially with the poor and those who are far away. The Church is missionary by her very nature; she is not self-enclosed but sent out to every nation and people. Her mission is to bear patient witness to the One who desires to draw all creation and every man and woman to the Father. Her mission is to bring to all a love which cannot remain silent. The Church follows Jesus Christ along the paths that lead to every man and woman, to the very ends of the earth (cf. Acts 1:8). In each of our neighbours, then, we must see a brother or sister for whom Christ died and rose again. What we ourselves have received, we have received for them as well. Similarly, all that our brothers and sisters possess is a gift for the Church and for all humanity. Dear brothers and sisters, how greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!

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Q and A on Spiritual Reading

» 17 February 2015 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

Q. What exactly is spiritual reading?

A. Spiritual reading is something every Christian should do on a daily basis. This is really something different than Scripture reading, which also ought to be done daily. Just as we make sure our bodies receive daily nutrition through food, we must feed our souls through various means. Reading is one of those means.

In reading, sometimes it is easier to concentrate on the message than it is when one is listening to a talk or watching a video. Usually reading is done by oneself, in a relatively quiet place, free from distractions. The message can often more easily “sink in”.

Spiritual reading is also not the same as reading in order to study the faith, although that is paramount as well. It is about improving the soul’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Very often, our spiritual reading provides “fuel” for our prayer, as we take note of things that strike us or speak specifically to us.

One way to look at spiritual reading is as a type of spiritual direction. In salvation history, God has always mandated that we be guided by others. Saint Paul had a supernatural encounter with Christ, but Jesus still commanded him to go and seek further direction from another man, Ananias, rather than revealing everything to Paul directly, although Jesus could have easily done so (Acts 9).

Of course, nothing can replace that one-on-one conversation in person with a director who you can open your soul to, and who can help you find the will of God in your particular situation. In spiritual reading, God uses a wise guide who knows the path to speak to you through the words you are reading.

Q. How much time should be allocated for this?

A. Spending about 10 minutes or so is a good target for spiritual reading. Spending about 5 minutes per day reading the New Testament would be ideal. Reading the Old Testament is obviously important as well, as it is God’s Word and God speaks through it as much today as ever. However, Christians simply must be familiar with the New Testament in order to understand their faith and explain it to others in their lives who question or doubt the truth of Catholicism. At times, it may be advisable to use the Old Testament for daily spiritual reading, while still keeping up with one’s New Testament reading.

Q. Where should I start? What books should I be looking for?

A. Father C.J. McCloskey has developed a Catholic lifetime reading plan, which can be found in various places online, including here:

http://www.catholicity.com/mccloskey/readingplan.html

Not all the books on this list are classified for spiritual reading – some are for study, some are for historical and cultural formation, but many are earmarked specifically as spiritual reading. Your spiritual director or a wise priest can help you select a book that might be best for you to begin with, or you can start the adventure by picking the one that looks most interesting to you. The important thing, as with most things, is simply to start!

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On the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

» 11 February 2015 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

bernadette-incorruptI guess you could say this is a “Wayback Wednesday” post, on today’s Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. For whatever reason, an article I wrote a few years ago on Lourdes, Saint Bernadette (and her incorrupt body), and on the miraculous in general drew a lot of interest, and still does today. People remain utterly fascinated by the phenomenon at Lourdes, and, I think, by the possibility of the miraculous in general:

This February, we celebrate the feast day of a saint whose life was touched by myriad miracles, all of which give stunning testimony to Catholic truth. Saint Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879), only 14, encountered the Blessed Virgin Mary in the grotto of Lourdes in the South of France on February 11, 1858, though at the time, she did not know who it was.

Bernadette was a poor peasant girl, not afforded formal religious education. When, on March 25, “the Lady” (as Bernadette called her) told her in the local dialect, “Que soy era Immaculada Conceptiou” (“I am the Immaculate Conception”), her pastor could hardly believe it. Four years earlier, the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception had been proclaimed by the Vatican. But Bernadette would have had no way of knowing, less understanding, what this meant.

Another impressive confirmation of God’s action at Lourdes was the miraculous stream unearthed by Bernadette at Mary’s behest. These waters have been the source of innumerable healings over the years, inexplicable by natural means.

You can read the rest of the article here: http://bit.ly/1uG9V06

What do you think about the Lourdes phenomenon, and about the possibility of miracles?

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“Contemplating” The Super Bowl

» 01 February 2015 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

Many millions will watch the Super Bowl today. Many Christians might even feel guilty for doing so – afraid that watching sports is nothing more than a “waste of time”. As a big sports fan myself, I’ve heard that one over and over from friends and relatives who, intentionally or not, make me feel guilty for enjoying athletics.

Sports fans, I have some good – no, make that super – news for you! As it turns out, watching sports can actually be a form of contemplation, according to Father James V. Schall, SJ. In his marvellous book of essays, “Reasonable Pleasures” (Ignatius Press), Fr Schall argues that something similar happens to us when we watch a great game, something that’s quite similar to what happens when we contemplate the Almighty. We’re taken “out of ourselves”. Aristotle, writing in the 4th century BC, noted that sport, or play in general, is actually the closest many people ever get to this highest plane of human activity, contemplation. And that similarity makes sense. C.S. Lewis once wrote that “play is the serious business of heaven”.

Enjoy “contemplating” the game, everyone!

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Q and A: The Baptism of the Lord

» 11 January 2015 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

Q. This Sunday’s liturgical celebration of The Baptism of the Lord takes us back to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. How does his baptism relate to our own?

That’s a great question. First, it must be said that Jesus’ baptism is really the moment when he initiated the Christian sacrament of baptism. What Jesus did was to transform John’s baptism of repentance (which was merely an outward symbol of sorrow and a desire to be cleansed) into an efficacious act that actually had the power to wash away sin.

Q. How did this happen?

A. As I wrote in a previous post, Jesus, as the sinless Son of God, had no need of repentance or forgiveness. His descending into the water did not sanctify him, but rather sanctified the water, imparting to it the power to forgive sins in Jesus’ name. Think of the Lord’s contact with persons who had leprosy. Normally, touching a person with that disease would render one ritually “unclean”. However, the opposite happens in the case of Jesus. Jesus is not rendered “unclean” in any way – rather, the defiling and debilitating disease is eradicated by the touch of Christ. His holiness is, if you will, contagious. So, anything from the created order that Jesus comes into contact with can be sanctified, made to share in his holiness and purity. This is what is happened with the waters of baptism.

Q. How does Jesus’ baptism correlate with his Passion?

A. That’s a very insightful question. As Pope Benedict wrote about in his Jesus of Nazareth series, the baptism of Jesus was really the beginning of his Passion. It was the start of Jesus’ process of descending into the reality of human sin in order to redeem it. He was already beginning the process of identifying himself with sinful humanity, and taking our sins upon himself, bearing in his own body the consequence of sin, which is death. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Jesus would, of course, complete this mission on the Cross.

In the Old Testament, as well as in the Book of Revelation, the sea is a symbol of death and evil. So, in a sense his emerging from the waters, with the presence of the Holy Spirit, as well as the voice of the Father in Mark 1:11 (“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased”) is a “sneak preview” of Jesus’ powerful Resurrection at Easter: his triumph over sin, evil, and death.

This victory is transferred to Christians at their baptism. Recall that in the ancient Church, converts were fully immersed in water; it was a species of death and burial. Their rising again out of the water was also a foretaste of their own future resurrection, yes, but it was also a summons for them to leave old, sinful ways behind and live the lifestyle of the Kingdom here on earth. As Saint Paul writes,

We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as weapons of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as weapons of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:2-14).

Let us avail ourselves often of the sacrament of confession, so that we may begin again, as often as necessary, to get back on the path God called us to in baptism: the journey to becoming saints.

How is your journey to live up to your baptismal calling progressing? How can we help others realize that their baptism calls them to holiness and apostolate (sharing their faith)? Share this post on social media and keep the discussion going!

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Reaching out with Christ’s love

» 09 January 2015 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

Today’s Gospel reading (Luke 5:12-16) features Jesus reaching out to touch and heal a leper, who was outcast in the society of his day because of his disfiguring illness. For me, this reading immediately brought to mind Pope Francis’ embrace of a severely disfigured man at the Vatican some months ago, which brought tears to the eyes of even the most jaded Vatican observers. This, in turn, evoked the Pontiff’s namesake, St Francis of Assisi, who famously kissed a person stricken with leprosy in his day.

And all of that, taken together, reminds us of our Christian calling to reach out to all people with the healing touch of Christ – those who are in need of healing of body and soul. Before Pope Francis was elected, he spoke to the conclave of the problem of a “self-referential Church”, turned in on itself. A Church that is often “navel-gazing”, as it were – focused on itself, and not its missionary mandate. For our Christian baptism calls us to two things, when boiled down to its essence: holiness, and apostolate (sharing our faith). Becoming saints, and helping others to do so. That is Christianity in a nutshell – lived so eloquently by Christ’s followers throughout the centuries – by Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis, and, Lord willing, you and me.

 

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Q and A on the Epiphany

» 06 January 2015 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

Q. Today, January 6, is the traditional date celebrating the Epiphany of the Lord (although it was commuted to this past Sunday in many churches). Can you explain the meaning of this feast?

A. The word Epiphany means “manifestation (of God)”. In Matthew’s Gospel, there is a great concern to reveal, or “manifest” Jesus as the divine yet human “Son of David”, the true heir to David’s throne (Matthew 1:1). It’s interesting to note that the term “Kingdom of God”, so crucial in Jesus’ teaching, does actually have Old Testament roots. However, the key to understanding the phrase is this: the only time it was ever used there was in reference to David’s Kingdom.

This is intentional on Jesus’ part; in fact, as he assembles his New Covenant Kingdom, Jesus incorporates many of the features of the Old Covenant Kingdom of God, David’s Kingdom. For example, Peter as Pope holds the equivalent of the OT office of “Prime Minister” (see Isaiah 22), one of a cabinet of twelve apostles, representing the twelve tribes of Israel in David’s Kingdom.

Who was the original “Son of David”? Solomon. Solomon, like Jesus, was known as an exorcist, although Jesus’ powers are orders of magnitude greater in this regard. Solomon also was known for his exceptional wisdom, and once again Jesus bests him in this arena, too (think of, for example, Jesus’ brilliant answer to the question about paying taxes to Caesar).

Q. Who was the Queen in Solomon’s Kingdom, and is there a corresponding office in Jesus’ Kingdom?

A. Solomon, of course, had many wives and concubines, which was utterly displeasing to God. However, this was a common practice for kings in antiquity, as marrying foreign wives was a way to consolidate power by means of political alliances. But these wives ultimately turned Solomon’s heart away from the Lord, contributing to his downfall.

This gave rise to a very practical question: with so many wives, who would be the queen? It’s not as if there would be a mud-wrestling match of sorts between them all to determine which woman would gain the throne next to that of the king. The answer to the dilemma was very simple: the queen would be the queen mother, known in Solomon’s Kingdom as the Gebirah. In Solomon’s case, the Queen Mother was Bathsheba, and the Old Testament shows how people would approach her in order to receive an appointment with, or gain favours from, the king.

The New Covenant example is obvious: Matthew takes great pains to show how Mary is the Queen Mother of the Kingdom of the new Son of David, Jesus. In Chapter 2:1-12, international figures pay royal tribute to the new king, seated with his mother. Solomon and Bathsheba are “types” prefiguring Jesus and Mary.

Psalm 72 (of Solomon, no less), is about kings from distant lands who pay tribute to the Davidic King:

1 (A Psalm of Solomon.) Give the king thy justice, O God, and thy righteousness to the royal son! 2 May he judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with justice! 3 Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness! 4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor! 5 May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations! 6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth! 7 In his days may righteousness flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more! 8 May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth! 9 May his foes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust! 10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! 11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! 12 For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. 13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. 14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight. 15 Long may he live, may gold of Sheba be given to him! May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all the day! 16 May there be abundance of grain in the land; on the tops of the mountains may it wave; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may men blossom forth from the cities like the grass of the field! 17 May his name endure for ever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May men bless themselves by him, all nations call him blessed! 18 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. 19 Blessed be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen! 20 The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.

Of special note are these verses: “May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!” (vv. 10-11), and “Long may he live, may gold of Sheba be given to him!” (v. 15a). This episode from Solomon’s reign, is, in a sense, being recapitulated in Jesus’ life. The message is clear: Jesus is the King; he can be found close to his Mother, our Queen, who gains access for us to the royal “Throne Room”, where we pay Jesus the tribute of our lives, make our requests known to him, and receive his favor.

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Pope Francis’ Midnight Mass Christmas Homily

» 24 December 2014 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

Pope Francis holds the baby Jesus statue at the end of the Christmas night mass in the Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican
THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD: MASS IN THE HOLY NIGHT
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
ST PETER’S BASILICA
24 DECEMBER 2014

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Is 9:1). “An angel of the Lord appeared to [the shepherds] and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Lk 2:9). This is how the liturgy of this holy Christmas night presents to us the birth of the Saviour: as the light which pierces and dispels the deepest darkness. The presence of the Lord in the midst of his people cancels the sorrow of defeat and the misery of slavery, and ushers in joy and happiness.

We too, in this blessed night, have come to the house of God. We have passed through the darkness which envelops the earth, guided by the flame of faith which illuminates our steps, and enlivened by the hope of finding the “great light”. By opening our hearts, we also can contemplate the miracle of that child-sun who, arising from on high, illuminates the horizon.

The origin of the darkness which envelops the world is lost in the night of the ages. Let us think back to that dark moment when the first crime of humanity was committed, when the hand of Cain, blinded by envy, killed his brother Abel (cf. Gen 4:8). As a result, the unfolding of the centuries has been marked by violence, wars, hatred and oppression. But God, who placed a sense of expectation within man made in his image and likeness, was waiting. He waited for so long that perhaps at a certain point it seemed he should have given up. But he could not give up because he could not deny himself (cf. 2 Tim 2:13). Therefore he continued to wait patiently in the face of the corruption of man and peoples.

Through the course of history, the light that shatters the darkness reveals to us that God is Father and that his patient fidelity is stronger than darkness and corruption. This is the message of Christmas night. God does not know outbursts of anger or impatience; he is always there, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, waiting to catch from afar a glimpse of the lost son as he returns.

Isaiah’s prophecy announces the rising of a great light which breaks through the night. This light is born in Bethlehem and is welcomed by the loving arms of Mary, by the love of Joseph, by the wonder of the shepherds. When the angels announced the birth of the Redeemer to the shepherds, they did so with these words: “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12). The “sign” is the humility of God taken to the extreme; it is the love with which, that night, he assumed our frailty, our suffering, our anxieties, our desires and our limitations. The message that everyone was expecting, that everyone was searching for in the depths of their souls, was none other than the tenderness of God: God who looks upon us with eyes full of love, who accepts our poverty, God who is in love with our smallness.

On this holy night, while we contemplate the Infant Jesus just born and placed in the manger, we are invited to reflect. How do we welcome the tenderness of God? Do I allow myself to be taken up by God, to be embraced by him, or do I prevent him from drawing close? “But I am searching for the Lord” – we could respond. Nevertheless, what is most important is not seeking him, but rather allowing him to find me and caress me with tenderness. The question put to us simply by the Infant’s presence is: do I allow God to love me?

More so, do we have the courage to welcome with tenderness the difficulties and problems of those who are near to us, or do we prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel? How much the world needs tenderness today!

The Christian response cannot be different from God’s response to our smallness. Life must be met with goodness, with meekness. When we realize that God is in love with our smallness, that he made himself small in order to better encounter us, we cannot help but open our hearts to him, and beseech him: “Lord, help me to be like you, give me the grace of tenderness in the most difficult circumstances of life, give me the grace of closeness in the face of every need, of meekness in every conflict”.

Dear brothers and sisters, on this holy night we contemplate the Nativity scene: there “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9:1). People who were unassuming, open to receiving the gift of God, were the ones who saw this light. This light was not seen, however, by the arrogant, the proud, by those who made laws according to their own personal measures, who were closed off to others. Let us look to the crib and pray, asking the Blessed Mother: “O Mary, show us Jesus!”.

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