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what is really important to God, to us Christians ...

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 4:39 pm    Post subject: what is really important to God, to us Christians ... Reply with quote

Let us clarify what is the important thing to God and to us as Christians!

As a Catholic and Christian, Christmas time is my God-given “break” to enjoy the simple message that God did indeed come down from the heavens for me and my neighbors. He could have saved me, and for that matter the whole human race by his pure divine act as God. Yet he chose to do it by taking on flesh and becoming a man; where in the process he truly made man he divinized humanity, and gave mankind, that believes, a brand new humanity. And for me, a brand new me, ie. my self infused with Christ’s grace, myself a new human that lives by grace. This is realized within me by my willing embrace and participation with Christ’s living, dying, and rising from the death. Christ’s redeeming act empowers me, and all Christian believers/followers to go through Christ’s way of self-denying taking up of the cross and death, through Christ’s true humble & obediential compliance with the Father’s will, and through Christ’s victorious conquering of evil/sins with his rising from death and our consequential renouncement of evil/sins with our rising into virtues & sanctification up to later final resurrection by & into Christ. In short: the story of man’s salvation through Christ.

Hence, salvation encompasses altogether Christ’s Incarnation & life on earth, Christ’s Passion & death, and Christ’s rising from death & glorious ascencion & seat by the right hand of the Father in heaven. Thus we celebrate Easter & Ascencion because of his resurrection & return-glory in heaven. We “celebrate” or commemorate Lent because we celebrate his very act of atoning sacrificing for us to the Father. And we celebrate Christmas because it was the “initialization” of the process of God dwelling with us his people.

The whole thing is called the Paschal Mystery Celebration and Realization of God’s salvation of mankind. This is the essence of our faith. And it is always behind this why we celebrate each aspect of God’s/Christ’s work of human salvation.

Now in particular, the specific aspect and “Celebration” on Incarnation, which is the essential meaning of Christmas, is behind all our real “fuzz” around Advent Season and customarily around this humanly selected Christmas Time. We are celebrating the Coming of our Saviour into the world. This is the faith. This is the reality. And this we must profess. During the first Christmas, the Angels sang, the Shepherds marched, processed, paid homage to Jesus, and feasted, if at least innerly, that they have witnessed and received the Saviour come to earth, come down to them. Moreover, the Kings/Magis traveled and came over also for homage to the King of Kings.

And we follow much the same things done during that first Christmas. We celebrate Christmas with singing Christmas Carols, which happened to have become high-tech because of the changes of the times in ways of singing. We go around folks or with folks all over the places (even and including at festive shopping malls), or stationarily at certain homes, including in Fellowship Church Places, particularly in Eucharistic Celebrations of the Mass because like the Shepherds we feel and carry within us the joy of the realization that Christ has come, which we memorialize each time of the year. It just happened to have been decided to do-it-so around December. But the focal point here is the expressing of the “excitement” similar to that experienced by the Shepherds. They were happy because of Christ; we are happy at “this” conventionally selected time because of Christ. In the sky at that time were “bright stars” which guided the Shepherds, (and the Magi). In our time we let lights and a variety of them, including sacred candles within worship celebration, make us feel the Season. Ie. whatever may or could assist us in our festive celebrating of “HIS” coming. And like the Kings/Magis, (as well as the Shepherds), we express acts of generosities or gift-giving as we first give of ourselves to Christ and to all people around us, in whom and in which each one we try to see the image of God or of Christ.

Whereas indeed business establishments or commercial people make money out of or from the activities of festivities from the joy of Christmas is not the point. The point is this God’s gift of human joy at the Coming of Jesus, even if expressed the high tech way or the modern-world way.

We do not worship December ornamental lightings, December ornamented “trees”, or the very month and day December 25 calendar date of the year. We worship Christ Jesus for whose joyful coming we festive-ly use stuff of earth, of the world in the process of being happy because of “him”. When Eisenhower came back from a victorious defeat of the enemy: Hitler and the Nazis, the people were happy and did express their joy upon his return to the US in whatsoever human and natural manners, vg. parades & banquets; or with whatsoever types of gadgets, vg fireworks & individual costumes,...... all of which stuff did not matter as much as our festive joy for celebrating the victorious leader of World War II.

Thus, we must not be stressed and distracted, and be focused away from the essence of what we fundamentally testify to in the Christian faith by a blown up attention to the externalities in our celebrations of Christmas. As long as they do not intrinsically demonstrate human excesses or concrete human depravities/sins, they could not and should not affect our faith in Christ’s coming to and presence within & among us.

From a total perspective, we have all year to focus on and dwell on the more serious and more demanding spiritual and personal “stuff” in the working out by grace of our growing in faith virtues. (Not that we are, as it were, “on-leave” in our call to holiness during the Christmas season.) It is just that God/Christ understands we are still made of flesh; and we need some “break” from the rigor and heaviness of our life crosses. After all, Jesus said, “Come to me, you who labor and are burdened....” .. I am going to be gentle with you. “For my burden is easy and my yoke is sweet.” Hence, all the Christmas joys and festiveness during his season are his one very concrete pro-offered means in un-burdening us and sweetening all our life unpleasantnesses. As a matter of fact, most everyone is given the gift of longevity, like at least 50 years of life; which, de facto, is already so much time to work on the divine challenges of sacrificial cross bearing, and personal purification & sanctification. Actually, God has been so generous at allowing more of us a life span that is even much longer than 50 years, ie. a much longer time to work by grace God’s call to holiness. This is already a pretty long time of serious and even solemn personal calvary moments, which God might demand of us in the participating with Christ’s redemptive sacrificial atoning for salvation. An annual respite or relief from such seriousness or solemn-ness about our faith at a time of the very joyful coming of our Saviour is both beneficial and pleasing to God.

If God himself chose to value the human/natural estate by becoming a man, why shouldn’t God allow us to value most of these human or natural goods given by God as our blessings-means of glorifying God and appreciating our God-given human living? Again, after all when you come down to the bottom-line, everything: both the spiritual gift of sanctifying grace and manifold actual graces, (which include all the material stuff we enjoy, like Christmas Trees, Christmas Carols, Christmas gifts, Christmas lights & ornaments, Christmas goodies or delicacies, etc..) all come from God. They are all blessings from God. So all these should not scandalize us, nor offend God. They could only bring us to the ultimate gratefulness to the Almighty.

Finally, let us once and for all mark this truth: the Church teaches and claim, while the Christian believers are taught and profess that God has revealed his love and Word in the Person of Jesus Christ, that he realized this salvation by Jesus’ Incarnation, Passion & Death, and Resurrection, and that this took place in time and in our earthly space. This is the chief reality; and this is what the Church teaches. And this is all pleasing and glorifying enough to God.

As regards the exact dates and exact places Jesus occupied while he was on earth, these are not the main intent of the Church teachings, nor of the Bible. Example, who could ever have recorded every each village and home Jesus stepped on and into during his supposed public life? Then how about his first 30 years in Nazareth? Who would dare be so accurate or even just “fifty percent” informed of how those years were spent? Nobody could, and nobody is demanded to be concerned after such. Because they do not matter as much as “the message”/Good News Jesus proclaimed and left to all of us his disciples and believers, namely. the “salvific truth”; not mainly historic truth.

My last word: we certainly appreciate and admire zealousness and diligence on heeding the Great Commission to preach Christ message of salvation. But we should never have the judgmental attitude of the present. For Christ said doing so might be detrimental at scandalizing those who believe. The harvest time cutting down and separating between the wheat and the weeds, and the consequent burning off of the weeds is dated by Jesus upon the End-times, “the harvest time”. And only by him upon authorization by the Father. Meantime, everyone is given the lease of his/her lifetime the chance for ultimate conversion. And meantime, while not reneging on the commission to preach, we always have to exercise the duty in the spirit of love, like St. Paul said.

Renato C Valdellon
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