REFLECTION ON THE READINGS
In our gospel this Sunday we get a preview of the Christmas Story with the angel’s announcement to Joseph, Jesus’ foster father. The gospel echoes the prophecy of Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him EMMANUEL, which means ‘GOD IS WITH US.’
GOD IS WITH US, so we hear. However, there are many of us who are tempted to question and even doubt this.
Every family who’s ever prayed for God to cure a child or reverse a famine knows that the odds are slender for a miraculous intervention. Much of the time our prayers seem to be met with that same wall of silence that can be mistaken for divine indifference, if not absence or even nonexistence. The silence of God is necessary to preserve human freedom, theologians will insist. This answer may be intellectually satisfying. But on the personal level, in the hour of human need, it can feel downright cruel. Some of us might sacrifice a bit of precious freedom just to have the assurance that God’s hand will save us from the consequences of mortal—and moral—frailty.
At Christmas we are renewed with the magic and majesty of the Christmas Story, a story in which God speaks being and goodness into the world. Yet, we’re also reminded shortly after the birth of Christ is recounted how humanity chooses evil and destruction.
God speaks the divine Word himself into time, and people determine at
once to kill him. God speaks through prophets who are likewise ignored,
persecuted, and eliminated.
Friends, if it seems to us that God is too silent, too distant, perhaps we
might also consider that God’s definitive speech and presence rarely
finds a hearing and a home in us.
We have another chance, this Sunday, to receive the Word of God into our hearts. We have a chance to receive the very life of God into our hands in the Eucharist. In just a few days, we celebrate the absolute gift of God into our midst, into our human reality with all its evil and suffering and limitation and frailty. God comes obscurely into the world, in poverty and irrelevance as a child of an unloved race.
If we wonder where God is and why God doesn’t speak, maybe we are
looking in the wrong places or listening for the wrong voice.
Quote of the Week
I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.