The Book of Genesis portrays God’s intended ideal world in terms of an idyllic garden, in which the human race would live healthy, happy, carefree, united lives. But God also endowed humans with free will, the use of which resulted in the creation of a different world, characterised to a large extent by toil , struggle, disunity, discord, pain and suffering.
But God did not give up. His rescue plan involved the extraordinary decision to send His Son to be “like us in all things but sin”. In an astonishing act of humility Jesus “ did not thing equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant and being as all men are, He was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.”(Phil 2:8).
God’s plan was launched when Mary agreed to become the Mother of God’s Son. It became a reality in Bethlehem on the first Christmas Night. “A saviour is born to us in the city of David”(Lk2:11).
HOPE entered our world. The carol rejoices that “Man(we) will live forevermore because of Christmas Day. That is our strong belief in the face of any adversity. We face one such adversity now.
The Corona Pandemic has stunned the world; a silent ,unseen virus not only directly threatens health and ends lives, it has also seriously disturbed all aspects of modern living - socially, economically, spiritually and personally.
The words of St. Pope John Paul 11 come to mind: "NEVER EVER GIVE UP ON HOPE; NEVER DOUBT, NEVER TIRE AND NEVER BECOME DISCOURAGED. BE NOT AFRAID”.
He could offer that advice with confidence “BECAUSE OF CHRISTMAS DAY”….a SAVIOUR was born that day… one who delivers from evil.
He is as involved in our present crisis as in any other down through history.
But He helps those who help themselves. He will not intervene in any miraculous or spectacular way. He will be there to aid our efforts. Those efforts must be directed towards the strict observance of the health guidelines. He will quietly use our good example to inspire others to follow suit; He will comfort those suffering, strengthen those nursing the sick and He will guide those seeking a cure.
We are wondering if we will have a Christmas at all this year.
At the level and extent of a traditional celebration, probably not.
But the basic reason for celebrating Christmas remains as central as ever and is to be all the more emphasised in times of crisis.
“A Saviour has been born to us”. He is alive and active and available
to us in these anxious times.
St. Ignatius of Loyola had a saying that might be our guide:
PRAY …. as if everything depended on God ;
ACT …... as if everything depended on you.
Jesus will be born again this Christmas in the hearts of those who accept Him as their saviour. His Christmas gifts will be PEACE in a time of anxiety, HOPE in uncertainty and CONFIDENCE in dealing with this unique situation.
St. Paul asks “If God is at our side, who can be against us?”(Rom 8:31)
HE IS AT OUR SIDE ALWAYS – EVEN TO THE END OF TIME.
Msgr. Joe McGrath