Pastoral message from Father Robert Arida
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our con-celebration of Christ’s nativity draws us into the mystery of divine and unconditional love. In this mystery we glimpse the power and glory of divine humility as it is related to everything leading up to the Lord’s birth and culminating in his cross, tomb and resurrection.
On the last two Sundays of Advent the Church remembers all the ancestors of Christ beginning with Adam and ending with St. John the Baptist. A crescendo of these commemorations occurs when, on the Sunday before Christmas, focus is placed on the genealogy of Christ according to St. Mathew’s Gospel. From these commemorations we become (re)acquainted with a history fraught with sin. There is nothing “clean” or “pure” about the Lord’s background. The ugliness of sin and the horror of death surround and permeate God’s preparation for the incarnation of his only begotten Son. With the exception of a few, those who make possible Christ’s birth have personal histories deeply marked by one or a combination of sins ranging from idolatry, ignorance, duplicity, prostitution, adultery, incest and murder.
The birth of Christ does not occur apart from the personal histories which, when joined together, form the historical material in which the pre-eternal Word and Son of the Father comes into the world. The incarnation is a divine/human endeavor. The personal histories of Christ’s ancestors show that their sin is often coupled with an authentic faith and desire to repent that ultimately allow God’s will to prevail.
Our Lord’s birth occurs in the midst of humanity’s rebellion against itself and against God. Our celebration occurs in the midst of the same rebellion which is more volatile and destructive due to the accelerated advances in technology. Yet, the sins, doubts and fears which mark our histories and are joined with those of the past and the future do not lessen the light and joy, the forgiveness and salvation, the hope and life brought into the darkness of rebellion by the child who reigns from a manger. The sins and therefore the evil of the world could not prevent God from creating his world which, before eternity, was predestined for the incarnation of his Son. (cf. 1Peter1:20)
God’s love is unconditional. Not even his foreknowledge of Adam’s fall could overcome his desire to create and to share his goodness and life with us. (St. John of Damascus) The mystery of God’s love yearns to transform our doubt into belief, our fear of death into courage to live and rejoice. The mystery of God’s love, stronger than our desire to rebel, beckons us to draw near to him and to taste and see the new life in Christ nurtured and sustained by the Holy Spirit.