By Father Joseph Breighner
I felt honored to be quoted in the Radio Mass of Baltimore Newsletter. (You can tune in to the Mass each Sunday on WBAL – AM 1090 from 9:30 a.m. to10:00a.m.)
In their newsletter they quoted a column I wrote in the Catholic Review for last Christmas! I pleaded in that column for every media outlet in the Catholic Church – bulletins, websites, newsletters, whatever – to quote G.K. Chesterton during the Advent and Christmas Season. Here, again, is that quote:
“No love that in a family dwells, – no caroling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells, – can with this single Truth compare,
That God was man in Palestine, – and lives today in Bread and Wine.”
The secular world celebrates the time before Christmas as the Christmas Season – the shopping and decorating season. As Christians, however, we get to celebrate that time, as well as the religious Christmas Season, from Christmas Day to the Baptism of the Lord. We watch the Lord grow from infancy to adulthood.
More importantly, as Catholics, we get to celebrate Christmas each day. The God who became man in Bethlehem gives His flesh as food, and His blood as drink, each day of the year. The God born in Palestine does indeed live each day in bread and wine on our altars.
Some of this may be lost on a younger generation. We refer to our gatherings today correctly as Eucharistic Celebrations. In the days of Latin, however, when the celebration ended with: “Ite, Missa est” “Go the Mass is ended,” we understood each Eucharist was indeed Christ’s Mass – thus the root meaning of Christmas.
All the words aside, the deepest meaning for us is that in feeding on the Body and Blood of Christ, we have within us the same God who lived within Mary. Mary has become the model of the Church for many reasons. She was the first disciple, the first to “Hear the Word of God and keep it!” Mary allowed God’s power to overshadow her, and for God to take on life within her. We can do the same.
It’s not easy being a Catholic, or Christian of any sort, today. Someone has described the United States as a secular society with a majority Christian population. As Christians we do not dominate the culture. Too easily, we can be seduced by the culture as easily as anyone else.
In facing the many faces of evil in our society, that’s why it’s so important that we have within us a power that is greater than any secular power. We have within us the power of the presence of God. And this is a presence that can be nurtured daily in our sacraments and spiritual practices. To withstand the powers of the world, we must know that God is within us.
The greatest expression of that power is the power of love. Love is a force more powerful than the hydrogen bomb. We have the power of Jesus to even love enemies, to love those who don’t love us.
We have the power to love everyone and everything.
I was once asked how we could love “intrinsic evil,” and I replied: “Because Jesus did!” By love, we dissolve the power of evil. That’s why Jesus could raise the dead and cure the sick. Evil loses its power when confronted by love. Yes, evil could destroy the body of Jesus but it could not destroy Him. It cannot destroy us. God is love, and so too are we who feed on God’s presence, who allow God to find a home in us.
It turns out that evil feeds on fear, and fear is too often fed by the media. We, however, dare to feed on God. And, now, as then, perfect love casts out fear! That’s the power that lives with us who dare to believe – who dare to believe that the one born in Palestine still lives in bread and wine – and in us.
Copyright (c) Jan. 4, 2012 CatholicReview.org