Every year Christians focus their attention on a little town in the Middle East-Bethlehem. We listen to the old stories laid down by the prophets and picked up by the bible. Our expectations are raised by these prophets who tell us of a candidate that will bring justice and real peace. But, if it is true, how long before the promises are fulfilled?
It has been two thousand years since Jesus came and many wonder if it has made any difference. St. Peter admits in our first reading, some think the Lord has delayed in keeping His promise. But, he explains that the Lord has a different time schedule. A thousand years are but a day in His sight. This is still a poetic expression because with God there is no time. But it might lead us to an insight about human history. It is possible that we are still a very young world and a young church.
But, the history of the human race is not that encouraging. Someone once said that the link between the monkeys and the civilized man is us. There might be some truth to that. We humans still kill, cheat, and hate each other. We still solve our problems with war, we also poison the earth. To the frustrated and cynical who see no hope for the world. The scriptures reply that the Lord comes with power and might. “Here is your right,” cries Isaiah.
He comes with power, the Lord rules with a strong arm. The prophet is speaking not of nuclear power, not solar power, or political power. But, divine power, the power given to all of us at baptism. When the Holy Spirit came to us just as Jesus promised. Just as He advertised and in that power we can do the works of justice and peace-that makes a difference-we can do miracles.
And, we must work miracles for, by our baptism, we are also Christs who are to do as He did-reach out. Because behind every crusty façade is a person needing to be loved as Jesus loved. Behind every cynical comment is a person crying out to be affirmed as Jesus affirmed. Behind every sarcastic remark is a person who would love to communicate in honesty and trust. Behind every backbiting, rumor is a person whose self-image is weak and hollow. Behind every gossip story that gets better with the telling, is a storyteller seeking notice and affection.
Years ago, we read about the “new age” there was a strange mix of spirituality and superstition sweeping the country. It seems that millions of Americans were leaving churches and trying to find themselves, trying to learn about their former lives. Trying to cure illness without medicine, meet travelers from other galaxies, and know the unknowable. But, in my mind, the new age arrived over 2,000 years ago. It was born in the little town of Bethlehem. This new age was born as a God-man who actually told us through tears and sweat and blood. What we are doing here, where we came from and where we are going.
You see, Christ did not take on human flesh, live our life or die our death. So that we might know Him, like a chemical formula, a historical event. A dogma to be memorized, a creed to be recited after the homily. He became all that you are, hid the glory that was His as God. That you might experience Him somewhat as you experience the man or the woman dearest to you in the entire world. That, my friends, is Christmas. When Christ is born for you, not a baby cuddled in straw but as a living God-man.
And, when you look at life the way He looks at life; “Blessed are the poor in spirit and the pure in heart; blessed are the meek and the merciful; blessed are they who thirst for righteousness and make peace; when you love the way He loved, love one another as I have loved you; a love without condition or restriction for the just and unjust; the likable and the unlovable; the Lord is coming, prepare a path for Him in your life.”
Others can point the way, but He is the only one. At whose name every knee must bend, in the heavens, on earth and under the earth and every tongue that proclaim to the glory of God, the Father Jesus Christ is Lord. This advent, ask yourself a question, “What kind of Christian am I?” Perhaps, you can answer that question with another. One I ask every year. If anyone looked to you to find Christ, would they find Him in you? Or would they have to turn away and look for another?