January 5, 2016

Nativity: January 5, 2016


"they departed for their country by another way" (Matthew 2:12)

Wow. Let us remember all that has taken place: The strenuous pilgrimage from Nazareth; the sobering rejection of not being wanted in Bethlehem; the humble poverty of the cave; the glorious birth of the Messiah; the swaddling clothes; the feeding trough. Mary has held her tiny son on her chest. She has felt is breathing in rhythm with hers. Joseph has laid with Mary laying on his chest as Jesus rests on hers. Then, shockingly, the shepherds enter with news of profound surprise and joy. As soon as they leave, just when Mary is taking it all in and pondering these things in her heart, the Magi enter. Who are they? Why are they here? The plot thickens as they lay in homage. Then, to all our surprise, they offer gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Soon, the Magi leave, as “they departed for their country”. (Matthew 2:12)

Ahhhhhh … once again, the cave is quiet. The nativity is silent. So much has happened. So much has happened. Finally, Mary and Joseph can take it all in. They can exhale. They can reflect. They can converse. They can pray. They have time to be alone with each other. They have time to be alone with Jesus. They rest with the gift of time.

Each of us wants time. Life seems to get busier every year. Our lives are filled with gadgets and gizmos each designed to save us time. However, with all that, we feel busier and busier. When life gets faster it has an impact, sometimes a detrimental impact. We lose touch with the basics: relationships atrophy; our sense of balance is lost; we experience less joy; we feel empty and wonder “is there more to life than this?” It’s easy to lose sight of balance. We need time for Sabbath. We need time for rest. And, we need time for silence, reflection, and prayer. However, if we live life at a frenzied pace, we lose our innate ease with silence.

Pope Benedict XVI urges: “today it has reached a level such as to give rise to talk about anthropological mutation. Some people are no longer able to remain for long periods in silence and solitude.” [21] Anthropological mutation: we are forgetting what it means to be human. (emphasis added) 

Pope Benedict XVI teaches us: “human life without prayer, which opens our existence to the mystery God, lacks sense and direction” [22]

“Yet only in God who reveals himself does man’s seeking find complete fulfillment. The prayer that is openness and elevation of the heart to God, thus becomes a personal relationship with him. And even if man forgets his Creator, the living, true God does not cease to call man first to the mysterious encounter of prayer.” [23]

“Each one of us needs time and space for recollection, meditation and calmness. ... this need tells us that we are not made for work alone”, but also for relationship, Sabbath, and communion with God. [24] He continues: “making time for God regularly is a fundamental element for spiritual growth; it will be the Lord himself who gives us the taste for his mysteries, his words, his presence and action, for feeling how beautiful it is when God speaks with us; he will enable us to understand more deeply what he expects of me.” [25] (emphasis added)

We cannot “go back” to our lives as they were before Christmas. Christmas, the real Christmas, has forever changed our lives. The baby is now the center of our life. To be the center we must let Him lead us. If He is to lead us we must get to know Him. If we are to get to know Him we must spend time with Him. If we are to spend time with Him we must make time for Him. As the rest of the world gears into New Year’s resolutions perhaps there is an element of those resolutions that may assist us. 2013 can be the best year of our lives; however, “Each one of us needs time and space for recollection, meditation” and prayer, for “making time for God regularly is a fundamental element for spiritual growth.”

If 2013 is going to be the best year in your relationship with Jesus you’ll need to commit to spending time in prayer.

We can help you.

We can continue to help you with meditations and reflections.

We can do our part.

You’ll need to commit, to make the commitment of giving God time.

For your prayer

Again today, prayerfully imagine the scene in Matthew 2:11. Be in the scene. You bow in homage … laying face down on the floor before the child. You rise. You want to offer Him a gift. However, He doesn’t want gold, frankincense, or myrrh. He wants something personal, something from your heart. As you approach Mary and the baby what does He want you to give Him? Can you offer Him a commitment of time? 

Today's prayer

“Father, I want to know you. I want a relationship with you. Teach me how to pray. Teach me how to live. Teach me how to be in relationship with you.”

[21] Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, Church of the Charterhouse of Serra San Bruno, October 9, 2011 [22] Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, May 4, 2011
[23] Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, May 11, 2011
[24] Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, August 3, 2011
[25] Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, August 17, 2011

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© Fr. Mark Toups, 2012. Expressed written permission required for duplication.