For many of us, Christmas is a time of comfort, of peace, and of abundance. We’re fortunate if that is the case. But what if Christmas is intended to be an annual reminder of our need for a Savior to break into our darkness? What if Advent, the season leading up to the celebration of the Incarnation, ought not make us sentimental and satisfied, but rather challenge us to live out our convictions through our baptism and to be bold heralds of Christ’s coming?
A few weeks before Advent in 1943, and from a Nazi prison cell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the famed German theologian and Lutheran pastor wrote a friend, “A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, does various unessential things, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.” Bonhoeffer could not be more right. The door of freedom for him then and for us today is still opened from the outside by the coming and second coming of Jesus Christ. Bonhoeffer, a vocal anti-Nazi dissident, was executed a year and a half later, but concluded in a final letter to his friend and Anglican bishop George Bell, “This is the end—for me, the beginning of life.”
Maybe we need to push against the door a little harder. After all, don’t we already have faith in Jesus? A faith and trust that, if fully engaged, can move mountains? Our convictions should be such that once Jesus comes to open the doors of our own personal prison cells, He would need to stand back lest He be hit by the door itself! Bonhoeffer exemplified this through advocacy, as well as in his acceptance of God’s Will for his life.
Without doubt, we do indeed rejoice that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) “to give light to those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79). And it is the Incarnate Son of God who wants nothing more than to open the doors to set us free!
As we are invited to bring the Christ Child from our home Christmas Crèche to Mass next weekend to be blessed, let us remember that Jesus’ humble birthplace had no doors, the access and availability of God made flesh is open, and continues to be open to us all without any barriers. May we continue to pray for the remainder of this Advent Season and beyond, that any door keeping us from fullness of the presence of Jesus in our lives be blown off its hinges!
Parishioners are encouraged to bring their nativity scene figurines with them to any Mass on the weekend of the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Dec. 17-18), for a special blessing from the Friars. The blessing will take place after Mass.
Peace and all good,