The essence of Christmas is GOD’s coming into the world – the greatest gift known to humanity – the hope of planet earth!
God who is so great, the Creator of our ever-expanding universe, became so small, to be one of us, so that we who are so small can know him, and become so great in him. Christmas is the mystery of God’s coming into this harsh and cruel world, not to add to human pain by killing others to set up his Kingdom; but he came as humble love and tender mercy in a vulnerable baby, to save the world.
In keeping with Pope Francis’ declaration of an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (begun 8 December 2015), God’s coming into our world in the little baby of Bethlehem was the Jubilee of all Jubilees, “The Year of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4:18), The Day of Salvation, The Moment of Mercy that changed history forever. Francis said, in light of the harsh realities of our cruel world – the Syrian civil war with 300 000 killed and millions of migrants on the march, the horrendous massacres by Jihadist terrorists, and the many other sources and forms of human pain and tragedy – we need mercy! We need to show mercy, to receive mercy. We need a revolution of tenderness, to be kind and gentle with others. There is no more tender and merciful story than Christmas: God’s coming into our world as a little baby, to begin a revolution of tenderness – that we must join!
Read Luke 1:26-38. Gabriel announced to the teenage Mary that God’s coming into the world would be through her – her young body. Paul “spiritualizes” that same reality: God comes into this world again and again in and through every believer, as “Christ is formed in you” (Gal 4:19). The early church fathers used Mary as model for all believers in Christ. As Messiah was physically born in her, so he is spiritually born in us who believe. Just as Mary’s life, body and relationships took the shape of the Christ formed within her, so our lives, bodies and relationships, take the shape of Christ being formed in us. And the purpose is to literally save the world around us!
In the Luke text we find four characteristics in Mary that facilitated God’s tender and merciful coming into the world as the baby of Bethlehem. Continue reading Christmas: A Revolution of Mercy and Tenderness
Following the Paris and Beirut massacres and the social media discourse that ensued, as a reasonably regular twit I tweeted the following on 21 November: “In all the jihadist killings and hatred, WE MUST SEE JESUS – a King who does not kill anyone, but gives himself in love to die for everyone”
Then I was stimulated by Fr Francesco Follo’s meditation on ‘King of Truth and Love’ (in John 18:33-37) and I thought more about what I tweeted. So I wanted to elaborate and I posted this on my FaceBook page on 21 November 2015:
Jesus didn’t impose his Caliphate as a domain of lies, hatred & violence. He witnessed to the truth as an inviting Kingdom of self-giving love. His Royalty was exercised NOT as an imposition of an intolerant cruel domain, but as a witness (a martyr) to the truth of love – for this very reason King Jesus was born and came into the world (John 18:37). And everyone who is of the truth, who seeks truth, will hear his voice, his message of love.
What is the truth of love? Jesus didn’t spill the blood of anyone, adding to sin, but shed his own blood for everyone, atoning for sin. He does not violently sacrifice anyone, but sacrifices himself, absorbing all violence for everyone. He takes a cross as his throne, thorns as his crown, to rule not by the sword to behead or the Kalashnikov to massacre, but by the truth of love to save and set free. THIS love, and its truth, is the greatest power known in all created reality. It will ultimately conquer all and reign over all. Continue reading A Christian Response to Jihadist Violence & Donald Trump
As some Catholic Popes have done from time to time, Pope Francis has declared a special Jubilee, which begins Tuesday 8 December 2015.
What is a Jubilee?
God commanded the Jews to declare every 50th year a Jubilee, a Year of Freedom (Leviticus 25). All property was returned to original family ownership, slaves were set free, all debts cancelled and the land was free to rest. The decks were cleared to give everyone a fresh restart on a free and equal footing. The record does not show if and for how long Israel implemented (celebrated) the Jubilee. Some scholars say that when Jesus began his ministry, taking his mandate from Isaiah 61:1-2a, he actually declared the Jubilee, “The Year of the LORD’s favor and mercy” (see Luke 4:16-21). Jesus proved to be God’s promised Messiah and his ministry of the Kingdom was The Jubilee of all Jubilees – The Day of Salvation.
Pope Francis continues his courageous leadership as a follower of Jesus, by announcing a Jubilee of Mercy, thus radically stirring the Roman Catholic Church and challenging the world. And the rest of the Church of Jesus should take note.
Why choose the theme of mercy? Why an “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy”?
In his Bull of Indiction, Misericordiae Vultus, he motivates why: “Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy” (n. 10).
I fully agree! I support this Year of Mercy. What follows is from my reading of the Vatican News on zenit.org, with a mix of quotes from Francis and my interpretations and comments. I’m doing this to motivate YOU to ‘do’ this Jubilee – for God’s sake! Continue reading Extraordinary Jubilee Of Mercy declared by Pope Francis