December 23, 2011

Emmanuel (God with us)

Holy Scripture tells us that "Pride is the beginning of all sin."  (Sirach 10:15)   I'm not going to attempt to delve deeply in to that (St. Thomas Aquinas covers it nicely in Summa Theologica, as does CS Lewis in Mere Christianity), but it's an interesting thought, isn't it?  We tend to think of pride a positive trait; being proud of one's hard work, proud of your family, etc.  But what's the dark side of pride?

As Lewis points out, pride is the root of rebellion.  And rebellion, of course, leads to disobedience to the Lord.  "Who is GOD to tell me what to do?"  People often speak hatefully of the Catholic Church, with our complicated hierarchy that helps to guide Christ's flock.  "Who are they to tell me how to live?  How dare some celibate old men in funny clothes tell me what to do with my body, or my money, or my family!  It's my life and I'll live it how I want!"  Who is God to tell us how to live?  What right does His Church have to interfere in our private decisions?  I think there's often a lot of hurt behind the angry words.  People feel that God, and by proxy, His Church, have no right to tell them how to live, because they couldn't possibly understand.  Because God seems so far away.  Our world is so sick and many people feel God is absent from their lives, and instead of fleeing to the comfort of His arms, their pride hardens their hearts against Him, and they turn.  But God has written His love on our hearts.  There's no hiding from it, and when we refuse to abandon ourselves to that love, our response is to put up angry walls of hatred.

What right does He have?  How could He understand?

Our Lord, our all powerful, omnipotent, omnipresent GOD, Alpha and Omega, loves us so earnestly, that He become flesh and dwelt among us.  We have the image of the nativity this time of year, but how often do we really stop to ponder what it means?  Our GOD not only humbled Himself to become a mere human man, but he came in to the world as a tiny, fragile, helpless infant.  He could have come to us, as the Jews expected, as a powerful earthly King.  He could have opened up the Heavens, with the trumpets of the angels blaring, bringing fire and brimstone and forcing every knee to bend.

But instead He came, quiet, meek, weak and small.  Because we are quiet, meek, weak and small.  And really, aren't we?  We can puff up our chests with pride and boast about how big and strong we are, we can stomp our feet and thumb our noses and say "We don't need you, God."  But inside, our souls cry out to the Lord.  Inside, we are tiny, fragile, and helpless.  Just as our Lord once was.  How could he not understand? 

He was born a tiny baby.  He offered up His body, broken and abused, on the Cross.  He stays with us here on earth, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, but under the humble guise of bread and wine.  He shows us that true strength is in meekness and humility.  True power is in sacrifice and obedience.  And true freedom is only found in joyful prostration to our Lord.

This Christmas, when you gaze adoringly at the sweet-cheeked Infant, think of everyone who is lonely and hurting in our sick, lost world, and pray earnestly that they feel the loving arms of God around them, and His peace and grace in their hearts.  This is my Christmas wish every year, for myself and everyone.

1 comment:

ccc said...

Great post. Merry Christmas to you and your family!