Friday, December 31, 2010

To Call God Father is to know yourself His Child

It is better to be the child of God than king of the whole world - Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

Gospel text (Jn 1:1-18): In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God; he was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him nothing came to be. Whatever has come to be, found life in him, life which for humans was also light. Light that shines in the dark: light that darkness could not overcome.

A man came, sent by God; his name was John. He came to bear witness, as a witness to introduce the Light so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light but a witness to introduce the Light.

For the Light was coming into the world, the true Light that enlightens everyone. He was already in the world and through him the world was made, the very world that did not know him. He came to his own, yet his own people did not receive him; but all who have received him he empowers to become children of God for they believe in his Name. These are born, but without seed or carnal desire or will of man: they are born of God. And the Word was made flesh; he had his tent pitched among us, and we have seen his Glory, the Glory of the only Son coming from the Father: fullness of truth and loving-kindness.

John bore witness to him openly, saying: «This is the one who comes after me, but he is already ahead of me for he was before me». From his fullness we have all received, favor upon favor. For God had given us the Law through Moses, but Truth and Loving-kindness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God-the-Only-Son made him known: the one who is in and with the Father.

As the days of the Christmas Octave draw to a close, we are privileged to hear the moving Prologue of the Gospel of John. Among the many stately phrases that pour out one after the other, I am struck by the following: “But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God.”

Having power to become a child—it is a curious phrase. We normally do not associate the words “power” and “child.” Yet, it is the heart of the Christian mystery. Incapable of saving ourselves, we need a savior. But the path to salvation is not “upward mobility,” but rather “downward humility.” Christian maturity consists in “growing up” enough to become a child, dependent on and totally confident in God. To be “saved,” is to become a child.

And this must come from a power that does not originate within us. The power comes through the choice to “accept him” – to say “yes” to being saved, rescued, by the Word made flesh, the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We must be born “of God.”

And so Christmas is surely about a birth, in Bethlehem long ago. But just as surely it is about many births, the births of all those who accept Jesus and consent to be born again as children.

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