Merry Christmas

nativity-scene-1What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light, 
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light. -John 1:4-8

Merry Christmas!

In this special season of family, food, and gift giving, it can be very easy to lose sight of what exactly we are celebrating. Our culture attempts to engage in the true meaning of the season by promoting ‘Joy to the World’ and ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town’ but this approach is both fleeting and superficial. Unfortunately, we find many people whose hope and joy are not enhanced by the season but rather diminished by loneliness and increasing darkness. Eggnog, ham, and a new pair of socks are great, but without a focus on the true meaning of Christmas, something is necessarily missing.

The Church in her great wisdom attempts to turn our gaze to the fundamental reason for our celebration through the gospel reading from John. Through the birth of Jesus, life has entered the world and this life is the light all humanity desperately seeks. The darkness of depression, loneliness, and despair can be illuminated and conquered by Jesus. The Christmas season, which the culture fills with artificial light and life, is supposed to draw attention to the source of authentic hope, peace, and joy. The twinkling lights on the tree in Rockefeller Center which bring a certain superficial happiness can also remind us of the beauty and everlasting love we find in the manger. This awareness of Christ’s light cannot remain in the theoretical or the hypothetical since then it can be easily dismissed or ignored by an already skeptical society.

Just as John was sent by God to testify to the light, we are also called to become ‘decorations’ of Christmas to reveal the life we have found in Christ. God desires that we act as the twinkling lights on the tree or beautifully wrapped gifts, not to bring attention to ourselves, but to point to Him whose life we reflect.

i.d.916 exists to help young adults become intentional disciples of Jesus Christ. We are a community of missionary disciples; always ready and willing to promote the source of our joy and our relationship with Christ. Let’s be intentional this Christmas season. Let’s enjoy all that Christmas has to offer while remembering why we celebrate the birth of a baby in Bethlehem two thousand years ago.

And finally, let’s testify to the light, a light which darkness cannot overcome.

God bless,

Pete Burak

 

No Room at the Inn

 

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by David Macari

As I reflect on the Holy Family’s journey to Bethlehem, they would be nearing the city now. Joseph would be silently relieved that his wife would not undergo the danger of delivering a baby on the road−at the same time telling Mary, “See, I knew we could do it. Here we are, just a few more miles to a bed and a hot meal.” Mary is in active labor at this point. She would be feeling a mix of body wracking contractions and a very real, very human fear that delivering a child would include in the best of the circumstances of her day, let alone in a foreign land with no assistance of an elder woman to guide her through it. They’d would both be aching all over from their journey, Mary bruised extensively from riding the donkey, (she probably didn’t have a comfy padded leather saddle) and Joseph wincing with every step as his tough soles have been split by the 80 miles of walking over four days.

Then they arrive at Bethlehem, the City of David, the City of the King. It is the day of the invasion of Heaven unto Earth. It is God’s version of D-Day to break the power of evil.

No one will help them. As Joseph humbly negotiates and begs for a place for Mary to lie down, imagine the simple refusals that progress from annoyance, to anger, then to scorn; anything to get this pitiful pair away from their door. The head of the Holy Family is laughed to scorn in his time of need, a foreshadowing of what his Son would experience. I wonder how many places they went before they went to the outskirts of the city where poverty, crime and danger were likely to exist. This is where God softened the heart of a man to open a hovel to the Holy Family. Here they will take refuge in this germ infested, smelly, uncomfortable, not-idyllic-in-any-way, animal cave; rejected by the City of David.

God chose to have His Son born in filth. I strongly believe that He chose this, so that we would know that He wants to be born in our hearts−just as they ARE. My heart is still filthy. Compared to a glorified human heart, what our hearts will be in heaven, our hearts are nasty hovels. God has been looking for a landing zone for his Invasion. HERE, Lord! Be born in me! Make my hovel of a heart the dwelling place of the King of Kings. I am not ashamed to let You in. I boast of my weakness to You, Lord (2 Corinthians 12:9). Make my heart humble enough to receive Your Son.

Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for they, like the most humble cave in the world, will receive the Kingdom of Heaven.