At this time of Christmas and the New Year, l often think of the remarkable words of St John Eudes, a 17th-century French priest, ordained an Oratorian and renowned for the missions he preached across France. The words which lodge in my mind are these:
“The mysteries of Jesus are not yet completely perfected and fulfilled. They are complete, indeed, in the person of Jesus, but not in us, who are his members, nor in the Church, which is his mystical body.”
“The Son of God… desires us to perfect the mystery of his Incarnation and birth by forming himself in us… He intends to perfect the mysteries of his passion, death and resurrection, by causing us to suffer, die and rise again with him and in him… and he will cause us to live a glorious, eternal life with him and in him in heaven.” (From A Treatise on the Kingdom of Jesus.)
Here is the sweep of our salvation, of our earthly pilgrimage, its shape and purpose. The more we recognise this truth, the more readily we can live in peace and with a confident poise and intent.
And it begins at Christmas. This feast is the beginning of the story of God’s decisive intervention into our reality. And it is a doorway through which everyone can enter. No one is excluded and no one will find the image of the helpless child too overbearing or out of reach. Indeed, as is symbolised in the low door at the entrance to the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the mighty must come down off their “high horses” and enter on foot.
In order to receive this Saviour, we must open our hearts in simplicity and humility, so that, in his lowliness, he can enter and begin to form himself in us. Like Mary, we must become a place of his dwelling so that we have him with us wherever we go, on every step of our daily journey. Perhaps we can gaze on the figure of Mary for a while, seeing how she is always pointing to her son, bringing our gaze to him, wanting to introduce us to him. This, too, is our mission in every circumstance, a mission to be carried out with the gentleness and love which she embodies.
I am glad to have this opportunity of wishing you all a very happy and holy Christmas. May the Christ-child find a fresh welcome in our hearts. May his peace reign in your families. May your New Year’s resolutions reflect a firm determination to allow him to shape your desires and longings for the year to come, no matter what it may bring.
It begins at Christmas. This feast is the beginning of the story of God’s decisive intervention into our reality. And it is a doorway through which everyone can enter
This article first appeared in the January 2022 issue of the Catholic Herald. Subscribe today.
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