Nativity of Our Lord 2011
Pastoral message from Father Robert Arida
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our con-celebration of ChristŐs nativity draws us
into the mystery of divine and unconditional love. In this mystery we glimpse
the power and glory of divine humility as it is related to everything leading
up to the LordŐs birth and culminating in his cross, tomb and resurrection.
On the last two Sundays of Advent the Church
remembers all the ancestors of Christ beginning with Adam and ending with St.
John the Baptist. A crescendo of these commemorations occurs when, on the
Sunday before Christmas, focus is placed on the genealogy of Christ according
to St. MathewŐs Gospel. From these commemorations we become (re)acquainted with
a history fraught with sin. There is nothing ŇcleanÓ or ŇpureÓ about the LordŐs
background. The ugliness of sin and the horror of death surround and permeate
GodŐs preparation for the incarnation of his only begotten Son. With the
exception of a few, those who make possible ChristŐs birth have personal
histories deeply marked by one or a combination of sins ranging from idolatry, ignorance,
duplicity, prostitution, adultery, incest and murder.
The birth of Christ does not occur apart from the
personal histories which, when joined together, form the historical material in
which the pre-eternal Word and Son of the Father comes into the world. The
incarnation is a divine/human endeavor. The personal histories of ChristŐs
ancestors show that their sin is often coupled with an authentic faith and
desire to repent that ultimately allow GodŐs will to prevail.
Our LordŐs birth occurs in the midst of humanityŐs
rebellion against itself and against God. Our celebration occurs in the midst
of the same rebellion which is more volatile and destructive due to the
accelerated advances in technology. Yet, the sins, doubts and fears which mark
our histories and are joined with those of the past and the future do not
lessen the light and joy, the forgiveness and salvation, the hope and life
brought into the darkness of rebellion by the child who reigns from a manger.
The sins and therefore the evil of the world could not prevent God from
creating his world which, before eternity, was predestined for the incarnation
of his Son. (cf. 1Peter1:20)
GodŐs love is unconditional. Not even his
foreknowledge of AdamŐs fall could overcome his desire to create and to share
his goodness and life with us. (St. John of Damascus) The mystery of GodŐs love
yearns to transform our doubt into belief, our fear of death into courage to
live and rejoice. The mystery of GodŐs love, stronger than our desire to rebel,
beckons us to draw near to him and to taste and see the new life in Christ
nurtured and sustained by the Holy Spirit.