Love That Is Christmas
was wealthy, handsome and unhappy. He could afford to buy whatever
he wanted - including women to sleep with. He could put on his act
and charm the gals, he drank everything from tuba to whiskey and smoked
everything from cigarettes to pot. But deep inside he was empty. Then
he met Heriot. That was five years ago. "Before I met her,"
he said, "it seems that I did not know what the words beauty
and reverence meant. But when I met her and encountered her loveliness
I seemed to see beauty in all of the world. I felt reverence towards
her and all the world besides. I suddenly felt horrified at using
another person just for my own pleasure and was terrified that what
I had done may have made me dirty for her. I never touched another
girl since. I stopped smoking and only drank lightly in company from
the day I met her. Our two years of marriage have been probably as
near to perfect as a marriage could be. I just marvel and thank God
for such a love as that of Heriot. She gives meaning and value to
all that I do."
is terrific power in true love. In fact, St. John tells us that God
is love. Love has the transforming power of God himself. In today's
Gospel we read the story, written many years after the death and Resurrection
of Jesus, which tells of the angel Gabriel coming to visit Mary in
the town of Nazareth. It is the story of the definitive and explosive
love entrance of God into human history. It is an arrival that declares
Mary highly favored of God, takes away her fear and makes her declare
herself to be the Lord's willing handmaid. Further, it renders her
pregnant without sexual intercourse. This was not something that happened
just for Mary but something that was for the whole world. God so loved
the world that he sent his only begotten son that we may have life
day a farmer and his son were walking across a field when the son
accidentally knocked the head off an anthill. He bent down compassionately
to see the ants darting about in consternation and was going to put
the head back on the anthill to help the ants. His father said; "Son,
leave them alone. The only way in which you could help the ants is
to become an ant yourself." In a sense this is what God has done.
He has become one of us to share our joys and sorrows. He did not
lift us out of our humanity but by joining us in it made us God-touched
and gave us a dignity that is beyond belief. He is no longer a remote
God out there but a God who dwells among us. He is no longer an impersonal
distant God but a God who is personally interested in each of us and
to whom we can be personally and intimately related. This is the great
meaning of Christmas. It is celebrating a God who so loved us that
he came to be with us and in us.
is realizing that we are loved. It can start with a human love, such
as that of Teddy and Heriot, which gives one a pointer to or a tiny
taste of what Divine love is. Or, it can start with an experience
of Divine love which can suddenly transform all other relationships.
The central dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of
Loyola is the coming to awareness of being loved by God. The greatest
block in our relationships with others is often our deep down feeling
that we are not loved and lovable. This deep down insecurity makes
us grasping and self centered in our relationships with others. But
once we know that we are loved we can let go of all of that and be
free to love ourselves and others.
time we try to center in prayer we are letting go of the effort to
grasp or control God. We let go of all thoughts, images or words.
We just center ourselves by repeating the prayer word. Doing this
is trusting in his limitless love and concern for each of us. It is
saying "I am absolutely sure that you are doing what is best
for me no matter what seems to be happening. I am sure that you love
me." This assurance sets us free to love in return. Christ is
born in such a love. This Love is Christmas.
into Silence - A Pathway to Life. Copyright © 1998 by Claretian