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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

My Christmas message to the parish

May all of God's blessings meant for you arrive joyfully to your hearts. Merry Christmas to the most wonderful people on earth. Please accept my Christmas message for you.

The Evangelists wrote the last third of the Gospels first, which were about the passion, death and resurrection of Christ plus the Acts of the Apostles. Then they wrote the middle portion and finally the Infancy narratives – that have little to do with Jesus' infancy but act as previews of coming attractions for the rest of the Gospel. Here are some summaries of the Nativity summaries as my Christmas message for you.

Darkness Remains Cold and Silent
Silence witnesses so much love shared at night as well as viewing evil wreak havoc, fear and pain at the same time. Mathew and Luke create the Nativity scenes only after meditating upon the passion and death of Christ. The Christ Child lays in a manger, on straw, cold, wrapped in swaddling cloth, without light and surviving at the margins of society because there was no room for people like Him with all the others who didn't care. Our Lord became a part of so much that has gone wrong in His creation. He is still within whatever has gone wrong, waiting save what is therein.
Jesus did not come to eliminate evil in the world.  Goodness shares the same space as evil does.  Jesus came to forgive, redeem and transform evil.  As Christ is silent before those who condemned, scourged, mocked and killed Him, there is profound silence around the manger.
He will eventually transform the evil in suffering and death into a resurrected new life. There is all the difference in the world between eliminating a problem and solving it. We cannot solve a problem by eliminating it. Humanity can never be transformed in that manner. Within each problem and texture of evil are potentials for resurrection – transformation to higher forms of consciousness and living. In each problem hides great good waiting to be freed.

I am Always with You
There is no need to waste our time exploring how to find God in our life. He has already found us. He is always there as our companion. Matthew reflects upon the last words of Jesus to His disciples: "Go into the whole world, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Behold I am with you always until the end of the time."  At the beginning of the Gospel he gives us a preview of things to come. St. Matthew quotes angels naming the Christ Child, Immanuel – God with us.
Angels open the heavens and tell Mary Magdalene and the disciples about the Risen Christ. The Risen Jesus walks with the couple to Emmaus. Jesus prepares breakfast for the apostles on the shores of a lake and eats in the Upper Room with them. In Bethlehem. Angels sing to the shepherds, they guide Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and Zachariah's every step.   
We are never alone. We walk striding many dimensions at the same time. Jesus is with us. It is like watching television with loved ones and friends. We are not always talking with them as we view what is before us. But we are still always together. As we grow in holiness, the more we can talk together; the more we have something to say. This is what contemplation is  i.e., living in the presence of God.  We do not have to struggle to find Him. All we need to do is turn our attention to Him and 'wa-la.'

Who Exactly is the Boss Here?
Matthew and Luke are meditating upon the religious arrogance and political corruption of the Jewish leadership. They have colluded with Rome in the crucifixion of Jesus. The Roman Emperor, Augustus, thinks he owns everything and everyone in the whole world. He demands that every subject go to the place of his birth so they can be counted and counted on for taxation and His service. His court is filled with decadence, opulence and moral corruption. Roman legends, couriers and courtesans fill his presence. Augustus creates peace in the world through force, oppression, obedience to law and the worship of leadership.
Discipleship is where it is at.  The Christian community is not a political system or even a religion like the Jewish faith or Roman cults. Religions are movements of humanity toward God in search for meaning in life and mortality. Christianity is a movement of God to human beings to bring a new type of spiritual world to earth like was in the Garden of Eden.
There are no armies around the crib. Heavenly messengers herald peace through loving service and justice. Jesus rules His world through caring partnerships. He directs all efforts to create a new garden of paradise where friendship and partnerships with God care, support and protect all life with equality.
The changes He initiates flow from the margins of society to the center; they do not take place from the center to the periphery – the Magi arrive from the corners of the earth. Christ looks to personal change in us all but not through oppression and control by others. The Magi are there to indicate that the world must arrive at the feet of the source of creation that transforms humanity from within. Anyone who thinks that the business of the world is business and power  is not looking for the peace, holiness and innocence where a child can be king.

Do Not Be Afraid
Mary, Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Zachariah, and Joseph are told that they are not to be afraid to take Jesus into their home, even though the road to the birth of Christ throws light upon the type of troubles they will have in the future.  What is happening is due to a conception by the Holy Spirit. We are not to think of the Holy Spirit as some type of divine counterpart to male sexual intercourse. The Holy Spirit is the creative energy of the God's life and wisdom. Jesus will not eliminate evil from the world or spare us from the consequences of our behavior or our responsibilities. He will, however, bring us to holiness through confronting and resoling our conflicts.
Luke and Matthew are witnesses to the power of the Holy Spirit that have transformed the lives of the apostles and disciples. The Spirit has created holiness, and loving service for the whole world. The Nativity teaches us that what has occurred in the Church's worldwide experience began here in a cave, or barn, or in a house's outer room. Joseph and Mary models the form of holiness and goodness that will fill the entire earth and the heavens.  The Holy Family is the future Christian community.

A Virgin Will Bear a Child.
The Holy Spirit will conceive within us the presence of Jesus like was done in Mary. There is a place in our souls that belongs only to God, to no one else and to nothing else. There, the Spirit of God will assure us of our unique place in history and our unique reflection of divine love.
Christmas teaches us that Jesus was both God and man. Our difficulty in accepting the divinity of Jesus probably derives from having a hard time accepting how we are true sons and daughters of God. We suffer from the overabundance of our blessings.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

+ Peter Orlando

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