A voice did not boom from the sky…. it was not a flash of lightning, an earthquake, or a vision of the heavens opening with a revelation that God loves man. Rather, God descended into the womb of a woman, and Love itself became incarnate. Love became flesh. The message of God became living, breathing, visible.
LOOKING FOR LOVE
Perhaps this is the crisis of our age. Not the lack of a message. Heavens no! Everywhere one turns, one can find the "message" of the good news. Cable television, radio, the internet… the message is blaring like a trumpet. But what is missing is often the demonstration of that message: of souls who have met Love itself, and then become vessels of that Love. Where can we find this message incarnated today?
If Christianity appears as merely a collection of laws and prohibitions, a series of demands and fulfillments as a means to get to heaven, then no wonder it has little appeal to the modern mind. People are drawn to love, not its theology; that is, they are drawn to the face of love. Where do people find it today? Because surely they are looking. Yes, they are clamoring to their internet social networks, video websites, and instant messaging devices, looking to be noticed, remembered, and loved. Can the longing for love be fully realized through a video screen? No. In fact, never have the means of communication been so widely available, and yet never has modern man been so lonely! He is looking for love and more often than not cannot find it!
Do we Christians recognize this? Or are we too busy forwarding nice stories through our email? Are we too concerned with reading the news headlines to see how close the world is to falling off the precipice, or are we running to its edge to become the face of love to those who are ready to jump off it? Are we transfixed with the signs of the times, with ourselves, or are we becoming a sign of the times—the sign and sacrament of Love?
God is love, and love became flesh. He lived and dwelt among us, but more importantly, He served and gave His very life. The meaning of this is astounding, and it carries with it a way for every baptized Christian. The Way of Love.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. (John 13:14-15)
God’s love was not expressed in an impersonal pronouncement; it did not end with the Angel Gabriel. It became a visible message one could "taste and see." It is not enough for us to talk about the Gospel; our family and friends must see it in us. They must see the face of love, otherwise, our "preaching," our fervent devotional prayer, eloquent apologetics, scriptural quotations, etc…. risk becoming sterile, and possibly serve to diminish and even discredit what we preach.
You are now members of the body of Christ, and Jesus wishes to live His supernatural life through you. How? Without Him, Jesus said, you can do nothing. And so you must daily pick up your cross, deny yourself, and follow Him. Follow Him every day to Golgotha, sometimes every moment, laying down your will, self-love—the great "I"—upon the cross. Bring it to death so that a new Love can rise within you. This is not an elimination of your personality such that you become a divinized zombie. It is a kenosis, an emptying of everything that is not of God that in fact dehumanizes and distorts who you truly are: a son or daughter made in God’s image. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God wants to raise you to a new life, a new creation, in which the true self, created in the image of God, becomes a reality. Not just a spiritual, mystical reality, but a living, breathing, visible reality—one with a face that the world can see. In this sense, you and I are to become alter Christus, "another Christ." We become for Him the face that others are thirsting for. And when they find Him in us, we can point toward the source of living water.
LIVING THE GOSPEL
As you meet with family and friends over these final feast days of the Christmas Octave, let them see your love more than hear it. Let them see your service, your patience, your docility; let them not only hear your words of forgiveness but see it in your mannerisms, your facial expressions, and your genuine interest in them. Listen, don’t just speak. Let others see your eagerness to put them first, their desires, their wishes, even when contrary to your own. Let the martyrdom of your self-love be evident to all, not so much by what you say, but by what you do.
Then your words will be the echo of love, rather than the trumpet of ego. Then you will begin to heal the terrible loneliness in your brother when he begins to hear that echo too.
Incarnate love, as Christ became incarnate in the flesh. Give love a skin. Become the face of Christ.
My brothers, Christ made love the stairway that would enable all Christians to climb to heaven. Hold fast to it, therefore, in all sincerity, give one another practical proof of it. —St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, Liturgy of the Hours Vol. 1, p.1256