By anguillian December 25, 2017 11:13 Updated



In September of this year Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated several islands in our region and inflicted severe damages in parts of the United States. Indeed, at least five of the islands in our twelve island diocese were recipients of the category 5 winds. After viewing the extent of the destruction and the perceived prospect that electricity and portable water would not be restored until the first quarter of the New Year, many were disillusioned. This was exacerbated by the fact that many persons would be unemployed (especially those working in the tourism sector) for a very long time. These circumstances led some persons to say, “We will not have a Christmas this year.” I shuddered when I heard such a remark. In a very forceful way it said to me that there are those who associate the celebration of Christmas with the ability to acquire goods and services, with having a “good time.” These things are not necessarily bad, but we need to put them in proper perspective. For, if the acquisition of goods and services are all that Christmas means to us, we are definitely missing the real meaning of Christmas.

Those who have grasped the true meaning of Christmas know that it is not a mere date in a calendar, neither is it just a time for gaiety. Hurricanes or no hurricanes, the perennial truth which the Christians story brings to us is this: The Almighty God who by his word made heaven and earth expressed himself, made himself known to humankind, by taking on the flesh and blood of a human body. The eternal word became a human being. This is the abiding mystery and wonder of Christmas. At the first Christmas, God took on human flesh. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Phillips’ translation makes this clearer. It reads: “so the Word of God became a human being and lived among us.” The theological term for that divine action is incarnation. I like the term coined by the theologian Nels Ferre for incarnation. He refers to it as ‘enmanment’.

Whatever term we may use we need to acknowledge the fact that the baby born to Mary over 2,000 years ago is none other than “God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God.” When he grew up and taught people, it was God himself speaking the same creative word by which the heavens were made. When he was nailed to a cross at Calvary, it was God in action to reconcile an estranged world to himself. When he rose from the dead, it was God bringing eternal life to humankind. Our life is now linked with God’s life. One of the great early Fathers of the church, St. Irenaeus, states the meaning of Christmas in words of simple beauty and depth: “Jesus Christ, in his infinite love, has become what we are in order that he may make us entirely what he is.”

This is a truth that we must be cognizant of not only at Christmas but throughout the entire year. Too often we marvel at the miracle of God born in a stable at Christmas, but for the rest of the year we place it on the back burner – the ‘enmanment’ of God gives way to our efforts to realize our own divine potentialities. We abandon God’s way and seek to promote our own agendas. The Christian message must never lose sight of its ultimate goal: the establishment of a personal relationship between human beings and the God who confronts them, person to person in Christ. The “Jesus our Immanuel” of whom we sing at Christmas must be the Jesus who brings God into our life every day…

One parishioner as he reflected on the way technology is rapidly changing the world, said to me. “You know this business of technology is really going too far.” Yes, we have achieved much through technology. In many respects we have achieved mastery over the basic forces of physical nature but we have not learned to control the destructive power of evil within us. The biggest problem the world faces is the transformation of human nature. The solution does not lie in developing man’s capacities but implanting God’s life into man’s life.

Christmas is God’s own way of transforming human nature. It provides the divine resources needed to overcome evil. But we have to appropriate these resources to ourselves. When Christmas ceases to be a seasonal sentimental story and becomes a living experience, it produces changed lives, more sensitive, more unselfish and sympathetic, more patient and loving. This is why we sing:
“Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us today.”

We celebrate, we sing for joy, because God is with us. Our joy is not predicated by external circumstances. It is an abiding gift within from God. Hurricane or no hurricane, we can rejoice because “the Lord has come”. He is our rock of salvation.

A blessed Christmas to you all.

(Published without editing by The Anguillian newspaper.)

By anguillian December 25, 2017 11:13 Updated


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