God Is With Us: Reflection on the Sunday Before Christmas

(December 21)

A philosophical system is somewhat independent of the philosopher who founded it. In other words, even if we don’t know much about Plato or Aristotle, or if what we know about them is mistaken, this does not affect the content of their teaching.
In other words, the teaching of Plato or Aristotle can be evaluated on its own merits regardless of the details of their lives.
This is not true of Christianity. Christianity is a deeply historical religion. Christianity does not simply assert abstract moral or theological principles but is rooted in God’s action, in human history, culminating in the coming of his son Jesus Christ. This is shown in the Gospel and Epistle for this Sunday, the Sunday before the Nativity of Christ. Today’s Gospel, which comprises the first chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel is the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Today’s Epistle is most of chapter eleven of the epistle to the Hebrews. This chapter goes beyond a simple list of names and tells of the circumstances of the ancestors of Christ. Both of these readings show that the coming of Jesus Christ was prepared for during and by the history of the Jewish people. The coming of Jesus Christ is the culmination of this process. Jesus Christ is God made present in humanity. So true Christianity cannot be separated from this history and these people.
However, a medieval Christian writer said that if Jesus Christ is not born in our hearts it doesn’t really matter what happened in the Holy Land two thousand years ago. In other words, we have to realize that Christ is with us now, in our own lives. Christ is present in the scriptures expressed in human words. He is with us in icons, which show the human face of God. Christ is present with us in our own hearts when we turn to Him Web Article December 21, 2014 in prayer. Christ is also present in the faces of other human beings. Above all, Jesus
Christ is with us in Holy Communion which is truly His the Body and Blood.
What all of this means ultimately is that in the rushing and business of the Christmas season and the end of the year let us pause for a few moments from time to time and realize that wherever we are or in what circumstance we find ourselves in the person of Jesus Christ, God is with us, as the choir will sing at the Christmas Vigil.

Fr. John