No. 38 The Gift of Christmas
2011 has been a year riddled with news that has been hard to take: wars, conflicts, revolutions, death, natural disasters, financial crises, corruption and dishonesty in high places, the cancerous deterioration of ethical and moral standards, mounting and derisive attacks on religion, the erosion and loss of faith. A mournful litany that goes on. Of course, there has been good news as well: people standing shoulder to shoulder, magnificent and brave in the face of adversity: drought, fire and flood, sickness, and poverty; idealism, compassion, generosity too. The unquenchable desire for freedom and for goodness are with us too.
And now it is Christmas, which speaks of peace, joy, hope, goodwill, family, fellowship and home. Memories, bitter-sweet or painful for some. And new resolve?
What is Christmas?
But what is Christmas? More than lights, decorations, carols, gifts, holidays, bon homie and food. Far more than these. For through and in Christmas we can discover the basis, the very bedrock of our life. Those who look more closely find meaning and the purpose of existence in the logic and the wonder of God and Divine revelation, in Christ Jesus. He is the Light and Life of the world’ for the world. It is Jesus Christ who brings fullness of meaning that cannot be found anywhere else: in any other religion in its insufficiency and conjecture, or in human philosophy, or via the physical sciences or mathematics; especially not from those who speak only the language that is not merely secular but secularistic, and atheistic.
The search for the ‘God-Particle’
An ongoing multibillion dollar experiment is being conducted in Geneva by nuclear scientists. It is expected to reveal the (non-) characteristics of the smallest known sub-atomic particle, the so-called ‘God Particle,’ and thereby to unlock the secret of all existence. This, as atheists and their fellow-travellers fervently hope, will put paid to the notion of an infinite being, an uncaused ‘first cause’, a creator. What is certain is the heart of the smallest particle will be without substance; pointing out to those whose minds are open to it, that what science may regard as nothingness is uncreated spirit, the ground of all being. Something that people of faith have long known: that God is Uncreated Spirit. Everywhere. Creator of all that was, is and will be. By and with whose power the universe throbs.
Christ the light of the world
Our Catholic Christian faith explains this further: the infinite God seeks us, reaches out to us in His tender and merciful love, through becoming human in Jesus Christ, who is the Divine Word and Son, true God from true God, consubstantial with and equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Word who was made flesh and was born of the Virgin Mary. This then is the deeper message of Christmas. The assurance and the blessing of Love Almighty beckoning us to life, now and evermore in His presence; and our purpose to be the real God Particle, His servant and His Beloved.
The hollow alternative
Contrast this with the offerings of the one, who says, ‘There is no God. No meaning in anything. No after-life.’ And who, in his final moments sees death as the wanton termination of the human person, so marvellous a being, but no more than a fluke! The one who goes along with such illogic, and believes that he has all the answers, is drawn into a void of bewilderment, cynicism and despair. For, the atheist, despite all his possible brilliance, his sharpness and fluency of mind and tongue, and his recognition of the wonder of this beautiful world, of the stars and the cosmos, of life on earth, and of the human mind, sees in them and sees in himself neither purpose or meaning. All emanating from nothingness, by accident, not design, and journeying into oblivion. Driven by the laws of physics: but laws with no law giver! Going no particular where. Only into darkness. The cosmic joke without a joker. Are these notions not the product of profound self-delusion? The fatal flaw in all this is that it attacks not God, nor is his existence,disproved, but it is rather an expression of disillusionment with people, with their concept of God and with a world of violence, humbug and injustice; with the organisations and institutions that do not live as they should, or practice what they preach, or who base their standards on the weakness, selfishness and myopia of their membership and their constitutions? But all this too is what Christmas deals with: forgiveness, reconciliation and new beginning, not fear or condemnation.
“Long lay the world in sin and sorrow pining, ’til He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your kneesŠ”
Father, by your will your Son took upon himself that human nature which you fashioned and redeemed. Grant that the Word who took flesh in the womb of the ever-virgin Mary and became a man like us, may share with us his godhead. (Divine Office, December 17th)