For my young friends, the personal and living God is unknown, someone else’s friend they hear about from time to time from some especially religious person, but someone with whom they have had no personal encounter.
Into this unfortunate and heart-breaking sense of isolation and distance bursts the “lover”:
“Here he comes
Springing across the mountains,
Leaping across the hills.”
Christmas is our celebration of absolute wonder at the awesomely amazing mystery that the Almighty God has stooped down to our creaturely level and reality and become the weakest member of the human race: a baby.
Though for many, their Christmas amazement may end with comments on how beautiful are the manger set and the Christmas decorations, today’s first reading confronts us with the startling words:
“Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one, and come!”
Jesus wants a personal relationship with us on his terms, which are utterly beyond anything we could propose on our own. The other day I sat in a coffee shop and the two women next to me sounded like they were using one of those lists of 20 questions to start conversations with someone new so you really get to know each other. It was a bit comical, and I’m sure since they were carrying on this exchange for a couple of hours or more, they most likely, in the end, did know a lot of details about each other’s lives.
But Christmas is the invitation for us to “arise,” because we are “beautiful” to God, and he wants us to come with him into the Father’s embrace, the Trinity’s life, and eternal joy.
Today’s readings show us that Christmas is a human and very personal event. In the Gospel, Mary sets out in haste to visit Elizabeth, to bring the Christmas message of joy to her elderly relative. We too, when our Christmas celebrations are over, or maybe before we enjoy the holidays, are called to personally reach out to another human being and share Jesus with them. For Jesus depends on you and me to reach others personally so that they too will hear the amazingly wondrous invitation: “Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one, and come!”
Kathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She draws from the spiritual tradition and her own lived experience to lead seekers deep within themselves and through their personal history to deepen their intimacy with and trust in God; live with greater joy, peace, and interior freedom; and encounter the Lord in their past and present life experiences to find healing, grace, and newness of life. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey.