Christmas 2016

“REMEMBER YOUR DIGNITY”

By: John Dalla Costa

Such joy to relish this day. A light is born that no darkness can swallow; a hope has been enfleshed that no despair can ever despoil.

The angels were right acclaiming: “Glory to God in the highest!” How can our hearts not sing with praise on this day? That said, for all that we now know Christmas to be, the birth of Our Lord is actually the greatest possible reversal from expectation.

This day actually celebrates “Glory to God in the lowest,” because the salvation for every atom of creation was vested in a child conceived out of wedlock, and born in a barn to homeless parents.

For all that is uplifting, we are actually beholding “Glory to God in the least,” because the greatest force in history – that of healing forgiveness – sprouted from one the farthest possible distance from the usual centres of political, economic, or military power.

Christmas commemorates “Glory to God in the smallest and most vulnerable,” because the Word of truth became incarnate in a child, whose later teaching invites us “to become like little children” so as to host in our own hearts the unbounded wisdom of God.

Throughout Advent we have worked as a parish on making space for the Messianic waiting that our Jewish ancestors experienced over generations. Immersing ourselves in this process of hope-against-hope was to help recover the utter surprise of Bethlehem, in order to feel anew the upside-down unsettling unleashed by our Saviour’s birth. Today deserves more of that solemn space – to appropriate God’s remarkable intervention in history, and to unwrap with peaceful deliberation the priceless gift of God’s presence in our own lives.

The Divine Office for Christmas includes a sermon from the fifth century by Pope St. Leo the Great. He wrote: “Christian, rememberer your dignity, now that you share in God’s own nature…and have become a temple of the Holy Spirit.” Glory to God in the highest, indeed, and in you, and in me, and in all our sisters and brothers.

Merry Christmas!