Thursday, December 28, 2017


Christmas celebrates, reveals, communicates God’s dynamic life bubbling and boiling over from eternity into time. The God we believe in is a God whose very nature is to share life. There is nothing of God that is not sharing or giving or boiling over. The God we believe in is the God who holds nothing back. This is the divine nature. God gives what God is. From all eternity God bestows and gives - this mutual bestowing and self-giving are what God is all about.

When God begins this life among us, God inaugurates a new way of being with us. God communicates the gift of divine life for us through a human life like ours. Christmas isn’t just the discovery of something about God but also about humanity. The God we believe in is not a God that has to be lured down from heaven by our efforts at trying to be very, very good. We are dealing with a God who does not have to be persuaded to be interested in us. Jesus our Emmanuel is with us and for us through a solidarity and identification so deep and total that when we see Jesus, we see a God who values us beyond all imagining.

We may be led to think that the Christmas mystery is limited to some sort of self-congratulatory, feel-good reality. It is all about looking with speechless amazement at every human face we see, and realizing that God thought this face, this person I see, was worth everything. God thinks that there is no gift or risk too great to bring the fullness of life and joy to this person. For many of us, this could be the most challenging dimension of Christmas for us to absorb - that radical sense that wherever we turn we see a humanity God believes to be supremely worthwhile. Wherever we turn the human life we see is a life as valuable as our own.

Let us pray this Christmas that we never lose the sense of surprise - the kind of surprise that prevents us from ever thinking of God as some distant autocrat we need to placate, satisfy or amuse. And may we never tire of that surprise which prevents us from thinking of any human being as a lost cause, not worthy of our attention, care and love.  

Our Christmas ought to be a very surprising time, a time when we look at our faded and stale images and thoughts about God and about humanity. Let them be refreshed by the very astounding newness of what comes into our world at Bethlehem - a God who overflows with love and a humanity in which God reveals the depth of divine life. 

Detail of Madonna and Child by Caravaggio. Excerpts from Abbot Damian's homily at Midnight Mass.