God lets us see and hear anew at Christmas
Dear brothers and sisters,
The Advent season which leads up to the celebration of Christmas should be a time of prayerful reflection, but in reality is one of hustle and bustle with increased stress, busyness and activity.
We may at times wonder, “What does this really mean?” We do so especially at this time of year — some of these things just don’t seem to make sense and we wonder where the days have gone.
But Christmas reminds us that God is present in our lives, and we see subtle signs of that all the time, if we really look.
Our lives aren’t just a series of business meetings, school activities, sports practices and social outings with friends that fill up our days and months along a direct timeline from weekend to weekend. We may live based on habitual ways of routine and coping. We respond to the demands of daily life in such a way that we can move briskly from one task to the next.
Pope Francis, in his General Audience on Wednesday, noted that since the beginning of Advent, the Gospel warned against becoming weighed down by the “anxieties of daily life.”
“These days we rush, maybe as we never have during the year. But this is the opposite of what Jesus wants,” the Holy Father said. “We blame the fast pace of the world, but Jesus did not blame the world; Jesus asked his followers to keep watch and pray.”
God is a boundary breaker. In Jesus, the Lord abandoned his own security and entered the world of others, with this pattern continuing in his life and ministry.
“Christmas is the payback of humility over arrogance, of simplicity over abundance, of silence over hubbub, of God over my ego,” the pontiff has emphasized.
At Christmas, we remember that Jesus was born in poverty in a stable. You and I are called to look for the face of Christ in the poor. I believe that, at the end of our lives, we will be judged by how we care for the poor.
“It is easy to get wrapped up in consumerism and in parties this time of year, preferring ‘the usual things of the Earth over the news of heaven,’” Pope Francis has warned. “If Christmas is just a nice traditional holiday, where we are at the center and not Him, it will be a lost opportunity.”
He stated that it will not be Christmas if people look only for the “shimmering glow of the world,” filling themselves with presents and fancy meals, but do not help “at least one poor man.”
Christmas is a time of renewal, of fresh starts and of coming together. The end of the year is a time when we can stand apart from the usual drumbeat of life.
Jesus constantly went beyond the borders of every kind and affirmed the humanity of all. In so doing, he invites us to step beyond our fears and to expand the boundaries of love.
Pope Francis has challenged us not to cling to security, not to remain behind the locked doors of comfort and fear of change. He wants us to be in mission.
The Catholic Church is at its best when it is in journey with others. It is the church willing to suffer with others — “a field hospital” — because it has been out on the streets with them.
Christmas provides us an opportunity to reflect on the core values of faith in the light of these challenges.
Let us through faithful discipleship share the missionary journey of Christ and enable others to have the fullness of life and to share God’s triumph of love.
I wish you my blessings and prayers for a Christmas season filled with peace, joy and hope.
The Most Rev. Gustavo García-Siller is archbishop of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.