We are a few weeks away from celebrating Christmas. Hard to believe that this great celebration is already at our doorstep. But we are called to live the mystery of the Incarnation every day… not just once a year.
The last few weeks have brought many events that question our faith and our living together. What if the Incarnation was given to us to make a difference in the midst of all these situations?
There’s been in Canada the legalization of marijuana, a first in the G20 countries. The news frenzy has touched all the great capitals of the world. No doubt this “openness” with all its socio-economic reasons masks a more spiritual problem. Why do we, as a society, have to legalize a “way of escape” from our reality? Is it because we have lost more than we dare to admit, a spiritual foundation that gives meaning to our life? So, with no spiritual footing, is it not better to just be “stoned” instead of facing the profound discontentment of life?
In the United States, a wave of violence in both words and actions tears at the social fabric of the nation. The slaughter of 11 worshipers in the Pittsburgh synagogue , the death of two blacks in Kentucky just for being black, the arrest of a man responsible for sending pipe bomb packages to politicians – all of these events occurring in 72 hours – let us see that the spiral of violence is growing. And the debate rages on to find the reasons why Uncle Sam’s country finds itself in this situation.
In Latin America, what started in Honduras as an exodus of citizens fleeing violence, poverty, hunger, and lack of work in their country has grown to become a real international crisis. The images of refugees and migrants from Syria and Africa trying to reach Europe now has taken on Latino traits on our borders with more than 7000 people walking by foot to reach the United States from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico… And this exodus becomes a caravan of hope for a better tomorrow for thousands of men, women and children who aspire not only for a dream but for a different reality.
In the Church, the sex abuse scandals touch everyone. On certain days, the sadness and the shame that we carry eats away at the hope of a Church made to proclaim the Good News of Salvation. Be it the numbers of abuse that shock us here and elsewhere, the legal actions that seek financial repair or even the suicide of victims and accused members of the clergy, it is all part of the pain we all carry as the Church.
A threefold response to advance…
And if our witnessing as true missionary-disciples was the first antidote against a sense of disgust that can overcome us in the midst of such a somber reality? And if the hope we carry was just the remedy to offer to so many men and women? And if our hand extended in solidarity was the first gesture to “building the new city”? Is it not what Jesus himself came to proclaim by his birth: “I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day (…) your Saviour was born – Christ the Lord!” (Luke 2:10-11).
Our personal witnessing must become the golden paintbrush that paints the shades of love on the canvas of the lives of people who surround us. The simple gesture of hospitality or loving attention to someone can open the doors of a friendship that will allow a more direct proclamation of the Gospel. Pope Francis said on October 25th: “Faith must always be transmitted in the dialect: the dialect of the home. And also the dialect of friendship, of proximity, but always in the dialect. You cannot transmit faith with the catechism: “Read the catechism and you will have faith!” No. Because faith is not just contents, there is a way of living, evaluating, rejoicing, being sad, crying… It’s all our life that guides us to faith. (…) Faith, like the Church, does not grow through proselytism, it grows through attraction – that’s a phrase from Benedict XVI – that is, through witnessing.” It is in the simplicity of our daily life, in the ordinary of life that the extraordinary presence of God can be discovered if we have the eyes of the Spirit.
Our Christian hope is the keyboard that can release the most beautiful notes in the symphony of human existence. Between the different movements that punctuate a musical composition, there is a chorus that unceasingly reaches out to us. Hope is the leitmotif that allows us to maintain unity in the upheavals of today’s world. Human history – be it in society or in a Church setting – has always known more turbulent moments. But there has always been saints that have answered God’s call to bring peace and serenity. With courage and audacity, they have been pioneers that hum new notes to chase away the omnipresent darkness. And if God has done this throughout history, he can do it also with your life and make of you a carrier of hope for the world.
Our human solidarity is the unexpected gesture that erupts on the drama stage of our societies that lose their balance. After the cannon ball shot that changes everything on the stage of life, a simple answer with our poorer brothers and sisters can make the whole difference: “I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me” (Matthew 25:35-36). In the darkest situations, there always arise men and women that advance and fight so that others may find a foothold in the quicksand of trials and ordeals. We can be touched by Mother Teresa, Jean Vanier or Oscar Romero. But if it were you, if it were me that were called to end hunger so that others may live?
The Incarnation makes the difference! Our Secular Institute vocation invites us to enter the realities of today’s world and find there the signs of God’s presence. The world then becomes a theological reality where God reveals himself. And our Christian outlook on that world – notwithstanding the darker aspects – continues to be good and beautiful, because God is there, present. God is there, in the midst of our life, and He gives us life. How can we not recognize that it is “very good” (cf. Genesis 1:31).
May our “yes” to the Gospel, to the poor and the lowly, and to the mission allow us to become each day men and women who make the difference!