We entered the season of Advent on November 28, and our thoughts turn a little from fearful thoughts for climate change with its floods and fires and volcanic eruptions, its heat waves and droughts, and all the suffering and death they entail, especially, but not only for the poor who have to live in dangerous places. Now we turn our thoughts to the coming of God Incarnate, of the Christ Child conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary. Somehow, despite the times we live in, Advent and Christmas are still seasons of hope, of trust in the Father who loves us, who sends the Spirit to enable Mary to bear Jesus in her womb and deliver him in Bethlehem, the House of Bread. Jesus, the tiny Babe, has lessons for us.
The most important is that God is helpless. We get ourselves into a mess, as we have done by destroying the environment we depend on, by poisoning the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the earth where we grow our food, and we expect God to rescue us. But instead, he cries like all the other helpless babies of our broken world. But this broken world is also blessed because in rescuing Him we find ourselves rescuing all the other helpless babies, and in rescuing any helpless baby we rescue Him.
Another lesson we learn is that we are just as helpless as the Divine Child but by crying out we can bring others to rescue us and empower us through the Spirit of love, the only one who can save.
All human beings are able to do good by allowing the Spirit of God to live in them and inspire them. Mary, pure and good as she was, gave her son food through her milk and warmth and cleanliness and whatever security her arms could offer, but it was Joseph, a man of dreams, who saved him from death. Joseph listened carefully to the messages he received and took the child and his mother out of reach of Herod’s soldiers. We badly need St. Josephs in this time of great danger, men who listen to God and quietly act as their discernment shows them they must.
The shepherds who received a glorious revelation and came to adore the newborn child were not men of good reputation. Shepherds dwelt outside towns and villages with their sheep and goats and were despised because they smelled of the animals they cared for. Obviously, they were God’s favorites since they were the only ones in Bethlehem given the revelation about who the newborn baby was.
The others God called to the crib were the wise men from a distant country. They were not wise enough to keep Herod from knowing the purpose of their journey and so endangering the child’s life.
I see from meditating on the account of Jesus’ birth that we must put all our trust in God’s Holy Spirit at this time of crisis and beg for the grace to see what we can do and DO IT. We see the Spirit at work in all of creation, as described in Genesis, and then at work in making the world evolve in amazing ways, the evolution of humanity being the most amazing. And I see that the Spirit alone can rescue us from the mess we have made. He inspires the scientists to see how we can provide energy without fossil fuels and thereby supply everyone on earth with a source of the energy needed for cooking, transport, light, cooling, or heating our homes. May the Spirit who empowers the scientists also inspire us to see what we can do to overcome the resistance to making sacrifices in ourselves and in others that are needed to prevent the heating of our blessed and broken earth.
St. Joseph, protector of Jesus our Bread of life, and Mary our Mother; pray for us.