December 2020 Allocutio
He delights to be in our presence
Fr. Paul Churchill
“The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14). All we celebrate at this time of year is captured in those words. God’s own Son has joined us and united himself to the mode of life we have here. Why? Because he loves us so much that he wants to be with us and share our life. And then, after visiting our world he wants to take us back with him to his home in Heaven.
As we stand or kneel before the crib (or indeed the Tabernacle) we might pray along these lines:
“Lord, what a joy to be in your presence. Help us understand one thing Lord, and that is how much you desire our company. We need you, yes, but you seem to desire us more than we do you. Perhaps our delays in seeking you are due to our creatureliness and our sinfulness. But you desire us with a love greater than any lover here could love.
Already, centuries before you came among us, you sent a message through a prophet in which you said, ‘When my Father laid the foundations of the world I was close beside him ‘(Prov 8:29-30). Yes Jesus, as both St John and St. Paul said, all things were made through you and nothing came to be without you (Jn 1:3; Col 1:16). And that includes me. You had already chosen me before my conception because you so desired me. I mattered to you. But then you add that you “were delighting to be with the sons of men” (Prov 8:31).
You were so in love with us all that you could not wait to join us. Like a child that looks out and sees his friends on the street and wants to go out and join them and play with them even more did you earnestly want to be with us and share our life .
And finally you were there, in your mother’s arms in the stable at Bethlehem. You had achieved the first step. You are part of a human family which you always wanted to be. You opened your eyes and saw your mother and St. Joseph and the shepherds and some of those who dropped by from the Inn and the wise men and the animals. I look into the crib and see you there, delighting to be among the sons of men.
But your mission was not fully achieved yet. You had seen how we suffered and went through so many traumas. When the leper came to you and asked to be cleansed you said, “Of course I want to heal you!” You so felt for us that not only did you want to heal us but you wanted to enter into the pain of our lives and suffer all we go through. It was through your love and desire to identify with us that you submitted not just to the physical pains of the Cross but to every mental, emotional and deeply spiritual misery we could suffer so that you could be one with us.
Oh Lord, we spend our lives trying to avoid such pains. But you wanted to partake of it so you could reach every one of us and understand us and love us. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I have to remember, Lord, that you so loved us that we are all chosen by you. Help me to accept what this means for myself and really believe you so love me that I can depend totally on you. But help me to see too that you love everyone else. Every other soul, even the ones who seem to me to be unattractive and repulsive, was made by you because you love them. Help me to look and see in them what you see and love.
But I notice something else as I gaze on the scene in the crib. On one side of you stands Joseph, standing as the representative of your heavenly Father. And I see your mother Mary resting, she who allowed the Holy Spirit work in her and whose representative she is. And that scene contains an invitation card from you. You are saying that you are inviting us to come back to your heavenly family to meet your Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit.
Later at the Last Supper you say that you will go to prepare a place for us and then come back to take us there so that where you have gone, we too can come to (Jn 14:2ss). You have indeed made your home among us but you invite us to make our home with you (Jn 14:23). And I reckon Lord that is one of the reasons you have given us yourself in the Eucharist, to help us build up a close relationship with you so that indeed we can make our home with you and enjoy your company.
So as we reflect on your coming among us this Christmas help us understand and take to heart that you desire our company, even when we sin, and by the help of your Spirit may we build up our relationship with you so that in death we can have a seamless Passover to your home.
Lord, you love us. Help our love for you grow”. Amen.