1 John 2:3-11
It only seems appropriate that our gaze these past few wonderful days has been directed to the Christ Child in the crib. Yet the readings today make clear that while we contemplate the magnificent mystery of the Christ made flesh, we are also called and challenged by it.
In his letter John reminds us that we only "know Christ" when we walk just as he walked.
Often we as believers can get so caught up in the sentimentality of the season that we forget exactly why God "en-fleshed" himself in Jesus and what exactly that means. By taking on our human estate, Jesus experienced both the positives and the negatives of all that life has to offer. Jesus laughed as well as cried. He knew hunger as well as plenty. He knew the love of friendship, as well as the pain of betrayal. Jesus took all that humanity had to offer without any vestige of sin. He never rebelled from God’s will, never shirked his destiny, and never severed his loving relationship with His Abba, Our Father.
Even as a child, Joseph and Mary did what was just and followed the law. They brought Jesus their first born into the Temple to make an offering as prescribed to God. And yet even there, Simeon prophesied that this child was different! He was "destined to be the fall and rise of many in Israel…and a sign of contradiction…"
If we are to walk as Jesus walked what then does it mean to be "a sign of contradiction?"
In human terms, we are often aggravated and irritated by those who contradict us. Often we find it difficult to reconsider closely held assumptions and examine inbred societal prejudices. Sometimes it is easier just to surrender to what the majority thinks, or what our personal preferences are.
Yet to be "a sign of contradiction," to walk as Jesus walks, to embrace the mystery of the Crib as well as the Cross, means that we must dedicate ourselves to God’s revealed Truth in Justice tempered by Mercy. Easier said then done you may think! Yes, Jesus tells us (and the lives of the Saints confirm this)…it usually takes a lifetime!
"Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes." To be a sign of contradiction often means shining light where there is darkness, as we kneel before the Christ Child this day and contemplate him as the Light of the World, may we too in our own little worlds be that sign of contradiction, bringing the Just Light of Truth to those yearning to experience God’s Mercy.
Patrick Quinn is the Director of Planned Giving at the Passionist Development Office in Chicago, Illinois.