December 25, 2016

Christmas

 

At the beginning of Advent we started listening to the Word that invited us to watch.
We went through the times of waiting in the company of all who have hoped and longed to see the day of salvation. We paused contemplating the decisive moment in history, the one when this promise was given to the faith of a Galilee woman and her husband, a just man listening to God’s Will, which is always a will of life and peace.

Tonight, again, we are in the company of people who watch: “there were some shepherds in that region staying in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock” (Lk 2:10): there comes to them the announcement of a great joy.

Everything could make us think of having arrived at the destination, of having completed the course. But this is not so: alongside the announcement of a great joy there is also an invitation to begin a journey to search for the place on earth where this joy is placed. Today, therefore, the wait is transformed into the journey. We have to look for Christmas.

The child is here, the kingdom is coming, but not in an obvious or striking way: it does not attract attention. It is not at hand, it is not predictable, it is not something commercial, all at once … It is come and it is hidden.

If you want to find it, you have to look for it; to go out of oneself, to get moving. It is found only by proceeding. We, in fact, we are made for this. To look for love, joy, life, truth. “You will find a child” (Lk 2:12)

But where to look? Good things are always and only found in poverty. There, where life is basic. Where there is nothing more than necessary. Where there is nothing that distracts. A stable, a manger and few things.

And the good things, then, are at hand:  you don’t have to go far, to search. Then what we will find will have something familiar: familiar as a stable is for shepherds. The sign will not dazzle us, will not cause us to get lost: in some way it will bring us back home.

Actually, we would never want to search for it right there: it would occur to us to look for it in the palace or the temple, not in a stable. Because of that it is He himself who guides us, and gives us a sign.

“This will be for you the sign” (Lk 2:12): a child, swaddling clothes, a manger. A humble sign because no one feels excluded, so that anyone can access it. And what will we find? “On earth peace to men whom God loves” (Lk 2:14). If we put ourselves on the journey, if we search for Christmas, if pay attention to the signs, we find peace.

We find the greatest gift possible: yet salvation could be something too little, if it is my salvation only, just for me. Peace is salvation when it becomes relationship, life, daily things. When it becomes a true encounter, stripped of all violence, of all oppression, of all arrogance.

The Lord has acquainted us with an event, but, even more, the Lord made himself known. So God sent His Son, God-with-us, made man, in order to again know what man had become in his separation, and from there to heal history, to renew acquaintance.

May this be our Christmas: a search for the Lord, but ultimately a letting Him find us; and the beginning of a new knowing oneself, with God and, therefore, among us.

+ Pierbattista

Original version in italian

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