Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas, Really

In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;
the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;
the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;
the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses
and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the one thousand and thirty-second year from David’s being anointed king;
in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;

in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;
the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
the whole world being at peace,
in the sixth age of the world,

Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and nine months having passed since his conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh.

Christmas Proclamation, Midnight Mass

Reflection – Merry Christmas. After this, I will not be blogging for a few days, the Christmas season being a time to spend with my community and the guests who come to share the holy days with us, not a time to spend online. Back, God-willing, on Saturday.

We see in this Christmas Proclamation the heart of the matter. It is not a fantasy, not a legend, not a theological theory dressed up in a fairy tale. Christ was born, at a specific time in a specific place to a specific woman. The eternal Son of God, the Light from Light, God from God, True God from True God, really did become a baby in time and place and history. It happened at a specific moment within the history of Israel, and at a specific moment in world history. There was an emperor in Rome; we know his name.

This is the crucial point which has to be gotten. Namely, history matters. Truth matters. It is vitally important in every way—theological, spiritual, psychological, cosmological—that this event really happened as a real event. There is no end of theologizing in the contemporary world that specifically and explicitly denies that. The theology that says it wouldn’t matter if Christ’s dead body was found in a tomb, or that the historicity of the Gospels and even of the Incarnation are naught, since what matters is some kind of spiritual ‘core’.

But the spiritual core of Christianity is that it happened. Really. Not a myth or a symbol or a metaphor. God became a baby. And because it really happened, it can really happen to you and to me. God became flesh from the womb of the Virgin; God can become flesh from your flesh and mine. God died on a cross and rose again, really. Your death and mine can yield to resurrection, really.

If it was just a metaphor or a nice story, what good would that be, really? Can a metaphor save me? Can a story die for my sins? I don’t think so. But it’s not those things, although it is indeed one heck of a good story at that.

So, Merry Christmas, really. Not a Blue Christmas, but a True Christmas, because the bottom line is, it’s all true, and it is a truth deep and all-encompassing enough to gladden the heart of every man and woman on this earth. So Merry Christmas to all, or as we delight to sing, over and over again in this season, at Madonna House:
Christ is born, glorify Him!
 Christ is come from heaven, receive Him!
 Christ is now on earth, exalt Him!
 All you earth, sing unto the Lord.
 All you nations, praise Him with joy, for He has been glorified!

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