Christmas is around the corner and we will soon sing the carols which have got a range of emotions. We will sing carols of joy and serenity in a world full of noise and distractions. Let us explore the message behind these carols. These carols are inviting us to grow in faith and to experience the joy and significance of Christmas time even in the midst of darkness. Let us experience peace despite the turmoil of life, and begin to see our committed Capuchin life from a completely different perspective. Let us receive the transforming message of Christmas deep down in our hearts to last long and search for increasingly transforming experiences. Let our self-centered hearts not try to find something to fill them with, to own and to manipulate others for our gain. Let our hearts glorify not ourselves but God. For Capuchins, it is a time of re-focusing on the priorities of life, as well as a time of celebration.
As we sing carols this Christmas time we need to listen to the inner voice by quieting our hearts. Do we need to go outside to seek silence and peace? And yet, silence and peace, however they are sought, are elusive. If peace is a matter of escaping from the world, rather than embracing the world and human experiences, then it is not the Peace that these carols sing about. Let us be alive in Christ during this Christmas. Let us embrace and be embraced by the living Lord of peace and joy.
The world deceives us; we deceive ourselves. We are afraid to be vulnerable, because in our hearts lies the "world of sin" that we care not to admit. The Bible tells us that Christ was not only truly God, he was truly human as well. In fact he is the only true human being who has ever walked on this earth. He was the essence of being. Christ's life was a life of vulnerability. He lay in the manger, naked and vulnerable. Later, he would amaze the religious priests by actually touching the sick, living the life of a homeless person and spending time with the "sinners" and outcasts of society. He shed tears of anguish when his friend Lazarus died, revealing how much the fallenness of the world grieved him. And he was truly naked and vulnerable at the cross, taking on the shame that you and I are so afraid of. He was not afraid to show love when he fully knew that this love would cost him his life. Instead of embracing his love, we would reject it, and ultimately betray him (Peter betrayed him three times...how many more times have we betrayed him?). In our darkness, we desire silence from God rather than the silence in God that allows us to hear his voice, the voice of joy and peace.
We would rather kill the joy than pay the cost of peace that comes from the cross, and our betrayal hurt him because Christ felt more deeply than any of us. You see, he was sinless and therefore fully, and truly, alive. He was crushed, as the prophet Isaiah foretold some 500 years prior to Christ's birth, for our iniquities.
God has promised to transform you and me, if we give our lives to him. Fullness of experience comes by making our lives vulnerable to Christ. But paradoxically, God's peace propels us into the world, rather than causing us to escape from the world. As we quiet our hearts before God, we hear, by faith, the voices of angels shouting for joy through the silence. And those trumpet sounds penetrate all the earth, transforming our vision. Christmas is historic evidence of heaven touching the earth when Christ, by being vulnerable to the world, transformed our essence of being.Are you "alive" this Christmas? You can be. Remember that, "where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in." This "living gift" is yours to receive and open. That is the good news brought to us by the babe in the manger, the epitome of joy and peace, the essence of being.