And the Word became flesh…

This is the heart of the Christmas announcement: the answer to the radical question of man, that is, where to find the light and life in a world full of death and darkness, it is offered by God who sends his Son to become a man among us…

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

A solis ortu usque ad occasum laudabile nomen Domini… (Psalmi 112:3)

In parishes, the commentary on the Christmas gospel is very often the opportunity offered to the parish priest to speak to an unusually packed assembly. We can therefore give in to the temptation to say things that engage the attention of even the most distracted, especially worrying about teaching something good, to those many who rarely hear a sermons. The liturgy seems to invite this by proposing a text that is anything but popular: the prologue of John, a text that makes you want to talk about something else. There is no polemic intention in this observation, which among other things recognizes all the common sense of such reasoning. Leaving it up to every parish priest to locally update everyone on the mystery of Christmas I would like to propose a reading closer to the theological meaning of the Johannine prologue, and in particular of the central term: the Word, the Word, or rather the Greek noun logos. It’s a comment that derives from my notes of a beautiful conversation heard many years ago by the then Cardinal Martini of Milan, his words and his ideas are unfortunately filtered by my blunders and small personal insights, but Christmas is also time of poverty and in the crib, next to the child, there was also a donkey. This is why I offer them as they are for your reflection.

* In the 18 verses of the prologue there is a small drama unfolding, a story that opens with the origin of the world and takes place in the fullness of time. The absolute protagonist of this adventure is the word Logos that in Latin translates as Verbum, which my mother tongue of Italian translates to: In principio era il Verbo… or into English In the beginning was the Word

This word logos is a despairing word, perhaps because it a the Greek word that has more than one meanings: mind, reason, expense account, and many other extremely disparate things. One wonders why John chose this word instead of choosing more precise ones. For example, if he wanted to point to the “word of God“, why did he not choose rema, which was perhaps the most appropriate term to expressly indicate the creative word of God? If he wanted to indicate “wisdom“, why did he not choose sophia or other similar words? Probably John wanted to offer us all together the various possible meanings of this term, to offer us a kind of ladder to ascend, degree by degree, to a deeper understanding of the mystery of the incarnation.

* For a Greek the most obvious meaning, that he understood from the use of his philosophers of the term, was that of logos of things, that is, the ultimate reason for being from reality: why is everything around us that way? What is its origin? Its meaning? Its end?

If we begin to look at the Logos in this way emerge five fundamental meanings, which John seems to have connected to one another, as if they illuminate each other:

1. reason for being from reality;

2. creative word:

3. authoritative wisdom of creation

4. illuminating and life-giving word

5. revealing word: the Son of God comes among us in Jesus (incarnates), and it is Jesus who reveals the Father.

1) The Logos is the ultimate reason of things: The ultimate reason for everything and above all of my existence in God. This is certainly a first message, perhaps implicit, but very evident of this gospel. My existence as it is (and that of the whole human situation) has a reason, it has a why, it has a meaning. And this ultimate meaning, hidden within God, came to me in the flesh at some point in history, in a concrete human person: the Logos became flesh.

2) The Logos is the creative word: Where is this ultimate meaning of all reality, of all things, of my human situation? It is in dependence on God. It is in the fact that we have all been created by him and by him alone. Everything was done through him. And it would be foolish and disastrous to forget it! To welcome this dependence with gratitude and to live it in praise and obedience is the only true possible wisdom.

3) The Logos is the authoritative wisdom of creation: With God, our dependence on Him, it is the ultimate reason not only of the being of things, but of being in the “here and now”. That is: all situations of existence, all that has happened and takes place now, has a meaning in God’s ordaining wisdom. No human situation is therefore meaningless, even the strangest apparently: both my situation as a man, and the situation of others and of the world, and the situation of the Church. Everything has a meaning in God’s ordaining wisdom and only in reference to Him are the answers to the radical questions of man about life and the darkness that often surrounds him.

 4) The Logos is Light and Life: The sense that God helps us to discover within reality, if we let ourselves be guided by Him, is luminous and vivifying. Despite the obscurity of the present situation of man, despite the human tragedy that surrounds us, despite the trials of the Church and the almost absurd situations in which the world finds itself and we can find ourselves too, there is at the bottom of everything a “gospel”, good news: there is a luminous and vivifying reason for all these things, if we only know how to grasp it and let ourselves be transformed by it.

5) This Logos is Jesus Christ among us who speaks to us of the Father: The words of Jesus, which we hear in Scripture, his own personal reality constitute the luminous and edifying sense of the whole human experience as we perceive it. This is the secure and necessary background on which all the subsequent construction is grafted. Without this basic trust in the creative wisdom that regulates the present situations and manifests itself in Christ, there is no hope of doing better, there is no hope of changing oneself and there is no hope for the world. Indeed, our hope lies in this source of everything in the ultimate reason, which is the divine creation and the presence among us of Jesus Christ, who reveals the words of God and creates a situation of truth and grace in the world: Jesus “full of grace and truth” (1:14).

St. Mary’s

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

From St. Mary’s Hermitage in Canterbury and the Hermits of St. Bruno – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2019

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

To formulate our Christmas wishes, this year we were inspired by several speeches that St. John Paul II said on the occasion of Christmas, during his pontificate: this to feel still alive his presence and implore his help and his blessing .

For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half 154531347714120038gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, we have seen His glory, glory of the Only Begotten from the Father. Sing to the Lord, bless his name, announce his salvation day by day. (Antif.monast.)

Christ was born for us, come, let us adore Him! Together we come to you, on this solemn day, sweet Child of Bethlehem, that when you were born you hid your divinity to share our fragile human nature. Illuminated by faith We recognise you as the true God incarnate for our love. You are the only Redeemer of mankind! It is our faith, is the energy that allows us to live and hope.

The Mystery of the night of Bethlehem lasts without interval. It fills the history of the world and stops at the threshold of every human heart. It even stops upon your heart! It ranks us among the seekers of Light. Every man, and citizen of Bethlehem that evening, would have able to look at Joseph and Mary and say: there is no room, I can not welcome you. And every man of every epoch can sadly repeat and and say to the Word, who became flesh: I cannot welcome you there is no room, my heart is sodden with things.

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The feast of Christmas gives a Christian sense to the succession of events and human feelings, projects, hopes, and it allows us to trace in this rhythmic and apparently mechanical flow of time, not only the course of mankind’s tendency to peregrinate, but also the signs, the trials and appeals of Providence and divine Goodness.

Therefore, we can transform and debase Christmas as a reckless waste of time, effort and finances, an event that can easily be characterised as consumerism: Christmas is the feast of humility, of poverty, of divesting oneself, the labefaction of the Son of God, who comes to bless us with his infinite Love.

Christmas is the feast of mankind. Man is born. One of the billions of men who are born, are born and will be born on earth. Man, an element of great statistics. No coincidence that Jesus came into the world during the time of a census; when Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti filius Augustus the Roman emperor wanted to count how many subjects where  within his empire. Man, the object of this calculation, considered under the category of quantity; one among billions. And at the same time, one, unique and unrepeatable. If we so solemnly celebrate the birth of Jesus, we do so to testify that every person is someone, unique and unrepeatable. If our human statistics, human cataloguing, human political, economic and social systems, these simple human probabilities cannot assure mankind that he can be born, exist and operate as unique and distinctive individuals, then all this is assured by God Himself. For Him and before Him, man is always unique and distinctive; someone who is eternally conceived and chosen; someone called and named by their rightful name. Thus the Child of Bethlehem comes to give us back our true identity and dignity as children of God.

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Christmas is the feast for all the children of the world, of all, remembering that we are also the children of God, whom he loves unreservedly, for He sees is no difference in age, race, nationality, disability or ability, single or celibate, religious belief, gender or sexual orientation, language or origin. to Him we are just His children whom he Loves like any father. Christ was born in Bethlehem for the whole world without exception. Representing every individual person on or off this world (we have to consider those who work in space now). Together and with everyone He speaks of His first day on this earth; the first message of the Child of a poor Woman; of the Mother who, after the birth, “wrapped him in swaddling clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them at the Inn”.

*** These Words that are the fulfilment of Jesus Christ ***

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

Today is the day of the Lord’s Christmas! The Father has given us his Son: for this ineffable gift we are full of joy.

Today, day of joy, the joyful proclamation of the birth of the Son of God resounds for the inhabitants of the whole world: Christmas is a mystery of grace to be contemplated; Christmas is an extraordinary event to share. The most beautiful gift is peace in the heart. Our wish for Christmas is that everyone can be happy today, tomorrow and always. Merry Christmas, may it be full of happiness and prosperity! Pass this happy festivity of the birth of our Lord in love and serenity.  We, The Hermits of Saint Bruno have been doing it for years now, whispering to everyone and to each of you from the cells of the Hermitage, our fraternal good wishes as we supplicate from the Son who is born, the most favoured blessings for each and every single human being in Anno Domini 2019.

– The Hermits of San Bruno, at St. Mary’s Hermitage nr. Canterbury in Kent –

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