Wednesday, December 10, 2008

He Emptied Himself

We now are into the 2nd Week of Advent, a time of preparation and a time of joy. In one sense we are looking inward, repenting, "making our paths straight". On the other hand we are looking up to the sky for the Star from the East. Order is good for life. The Church has guided us throughout the the liturgical year reminding us to be diligent, inspired, mindful of the things God has done and continues to do for us. The Jewish people of whom our Lord was born into were a people of seasons. They were precise in their in their celebrations, in what was to be done in what period of time and for how long. The secular world follows the calendar year and celebrates specific events on specific days. When you think about it isn't January 1st just another day? In the Book of Ecclesiastes the author writes " There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven" So it is good that the Church exercises her role of guiding and instructing for the Church is Christ and Christ is the Church. It is our duty to be fully involved and open to the opportunities that the Holy Spirit will present to us as we ponder the great mystery of the Incarnation. This mystery is difficult to grasp at times. The enormity of God's humility and love is sometimes for me beyond any human comprehension. It is the first lesson the God teaches us.
A few nights ago I watched the tv version of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" the 1984 movie with George C. Scott as Scrooge. It is wonderful. There is a point in the story were Scrooge is taken to the home of Bob Crachit by the spirit. The family are awaiting Bob and Tiny Tim and are busy about the home doing their preparations. Finally Bob Crachit and Tiny Tim arrive. I will pick up the dialogue exactly as Dickens wrote it. "And how did little Tim behave?" asked Mrs. Crachit, when she rallied Bob on his credulity, and Bob hugged his daughter to his heart's content. "As good as gold," said Bob, "and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church because he was a cripple and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see." That is the humility that God seeks us to have. Jesus instructs in Matthew 18:4"Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Paul reminds the Philippians of imitating Christ's humility. " Do nothing out of selfish ambition, but in humility consider others better than yourself." He describes Jesus as one who"did not consider equality with God something to be grasped" and "he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" How do we posses this kind of humility? We first have to shed our pride. This is a difficult thing. We can reflect on Scripture meditating on Christ's humility, we can also look to the Blessed Mother and the saints for example. I would read about Maximilian Kolbe or Mother Teresa. We can pray for the desire to be humble. We can practice it on family members, co-workers, neighbors, and yes even strangers. All virtues grow with practice and repetition. There is always a choice that is before each of us. The secular world which has rejected God and teaches us quite the opposite of humility. Will you follow the "world" or the example of Jesus Christ? We can approach our day with the attitude of what good thing can happen for me or the example of Jesus Christ which is what good thing can I do for others. When we surrender our heart to the will of God which is totally unconditional love, we can love others as we love ourselves. One other thing....I don't know about you but I get from time to time emails that are sort of "good feeling, God loves you, chain letters". You are suppose to forward these letters and "something good will happen" Whereas I don't deny or want to imply that God doesn't love you or that these letters are harmful in any way, my suggestion if you want something good to happen for yourself and others is to link to one of the charitable websites to the left of here. You will be genuinely helping someone who is truly in need. We Americans have far too much. Can't you give just a little for someone else?

1 comment:

Rosemary Sharpe said...

I just feel awful when I receive those chain letters in my email, I wish there was some way to stop them. Rosemary Sharpe