Monday, December 19, 2016

Christ+Mass = Meaning

Gift. Sacrifice. Offering. 

If you're looking for meaning in your life, then you're looking for Christ.  But Christ is not some figment of our imaginations, some mythological figure who responds to the "moralistic therapeutic deism" of the day (C. Smith).

Rather, Jesus Christ is the one who has ushered into human history the fullness of meaning, which hinges on three interwoven experiences:

1) Gift. The indwelling of Eternity in time begins ever so gradually, and then arrives all of a sudden. God's self-donation is anticipated by his promises to the chosen people, but manages to arrive unexpectedly.

The breakthrough of the Infinite into the finite emerges in a seemingly insignificant experience at an apparently uneventful moment of human history. A mother gives birth in transit; a faithful husband does the best he can; a newborn Son settles into a make-shift crib. To those who lack eyes to see, the presence of Meaning itself might be almost too commonplace to notice.

The Christ Child arrives as eternal and infinite Love in the flesh.  Divine Life itself, the perfection of Self-giving, makes a Self-donation to the Virgin Mother. The Creator entrusts everything to one of his own creatures.  This event stands as a scandal to philosophers, and an impossibility for the religions of the world, but the God of Jesus Christ responds to the eternal and infinite longing of the human heart by freely entering into it and taking it up.

2) Sacrifice.  From the first visits of the heavenly messengers, Mary and Joseph know that Jesus "will save his people from their sins" (Mt 1:21), and "of his kingdom there will be no end" (Lk 1:33). Love enters the world destined to exit via self-sacrifice, but this self-emptying will open the door for an endless new beginning. The fullness of existence reveals itself as other-centered and finds itself by losing itself for the Other.

At every Mass, but especially this Christmas, let's look for new ways to enter into this dynamic of self-giving and self-sacrificing love.

3) Offering.  The call of Chirst+Mass is to spiritually place all that we have received and all that remains of our short time on earth at the foot of the Child's manger and the God-Man's altar.  It is an invitation to enter into the dynamic of Trinitarian Love by offering our very selves to the divine Communion of Persons.

Eternal Life and Infinite Love are destined to be poured out as gifts for the sake of the whole world. This is the drama to which Christ and Christmas--indeed, every Mass--invites us. What do we have to lose, that we haven't already received?


In our quest to draw closer to Christ and so find meaning everywhere, let us respond with shepherds, angels, and saints: "Glory to God in the highest"!