First Sunday of Christmas 2018 by Paul S. Julienne
One of our deepest human needs is to love and to be loved. We are not made to live our lives alone. John Donne expressed this poetically when he wrote “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” Surely part of the meaning of being made in God’s image is that our lives are to reflect in some way the inner life of God as a Trinity of Persons in a relationship of love with one another. We flourish best as part of a community where love of God and love of neighbor are properly balanced and expressed. To be in any kind of relationship with another person requires communication. Words provide one of the main ways by which we communicate with one another. Can you imagine what the world would be like if we had no words? Our words can build up or tear down. In our sinful world, they all too often do the latter and destroy relationships and community.
God’s love for us is expressed through the words of Scripture. Yet His most significant Word to us is through a Person, Jesus of Nazareth, the Word Who took flesh as a human baby born to his virgin mother Mary. It is often said that actions speak louder than words. In Jesus, God’s action and Word meet in prefect harmony. God’s Word in Christ is a powerful statement of His love for us in spite of our sinful ways: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) It is hard to imagine God’s self-emptying and self-giving love that took Jesus to the cross. Yet Saint Paul tells us “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” (Phil. 2:5-7) It is a hard standard to live up to, and is only possible through the gift of God’s Spirit. As we enter the new year, may all of us take to heart the example of Jesus, and so allow our words to reflect God’s love for us and serve to build up our various communities in love.