Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Today's text

From the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)

He sent his Son, the eternal Word who enlightens all [people], to dwell among [human beings] and make known to them the innermost things of God. Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, sent as a man to [all people] speaks the words of God, and brings to perfection the saving work that the Father gave him to do. To see him is to see the Father also.


I wonder about the work the Jesus the Christ was given to do. What is that work?

Many of the ways Western Christianity has emphasized in recent centuries make no sense to me. They never did. As a boy, I heard the idea that God sent Jesus to be strung up on a cross to pay the price of human sin, so that God, the Father, might be satisfied.

It made no sense. It God less forgiving than I was, and anything that does that must be mistaken.

This traditional “atonement theology” burns at the heart of virtually all conservative preachers and movements. It is at their core. But if to be Christian one must believe that this is Jesus work, well, I am not a Christian.

But I am, profoundly so, and I am more so as the years go by.

But this year again I come to the cradle of Bethlehem with the same question: How does this child, this Jesus help me? How does he help anyone? What difference does he make for those who are dying … or watching a loved one fade away? What does he mean for people I know who may be losing their little daughter? And what difference does this child make in a world where a billion or more are hungry today, or even starving?

Jesus is born to peasant parents with no prospects that they or he will amount to much, just more child in a world of poor children. The only thing that has changed in this regard is there now are far more poor children.

So what difference does Jesus “work” make; what work does he do?

The grand theories of theologians hold scant hold on my mind and less on my soul. They do not excite the imagination or touch the heart.

What does, however, is standing close to manger of Jesus and imagining that this child is the eternal desire of God for me and for all.

God’s eternal desire is to unite the great and uncreated divine heart with our created hearts, so that the Infinite Source of loving joy might pour through us. The loving and infinite God, who is everywhere as present, seeks to unite the created soul with the eternal heart of God--and has been doing so since before the beginning of time. All progress in humanity and grace is the product of such divine effort and presence.

This was God’s desire, an eternal desire, which has nothing to do with human sin and imperfection.

God’s great heart always seeks to give itself away for the sake of creating free and full communion of love and joy between himself and the created order. This is not the result of sin and human error. It is the eternal desire of God whose will is and always was love, and love wants but one thing--to unite with the beloved.

In Jesus, the eternal divine desire is fulfilled; the union of God’s heart and a human heart appears most clearly. And I see--no, I feel--that this child, this Jesus, shows me the union of Heart with heart, of Love with love, of Divinity with humanity, the union God is working to make happen in me … and in all.

When I look again at the child, when with shepherds I draw near the manger, listening again to the story … a love is awakened. I should say Love is awakened. God is born again in me. The heart of God is awakened in the narrow confines of my heart.

And at one and the same moment, my humanity and the great heart of the Divine Wonder dance with joy.

Pr. David L. Miller

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