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If we walk in the light

by davesandel on December 28th, 2018

If we walk in the light

Friday, December 28, 2018

If we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. – From 1 John 1

After the 11 pm bell-ringing service at First Methodist in Champaign, I came home for Pope Francis’ Christmas Eve service at the Vatican. Lots of people there! Sleepy kids and bored householders, and many others who were enthralled. I was both, I guess.

When Pope Francis speaks, it’s almost with a whisper. He reads his homily; the charisma comes from elsewhere. Like Francis is trying to get out of the way, so the Holy Spirit can come upon us.

He talked about Bethlehem, which means “the house of bread.”

The tiny body of the Child of Bethlehem speaks to us of a new way to live our lives, by sharing and giving. God makes himself small so that he can be our food. By feeding on him, the bread of life, we can be reborn in love and break the spiral of grasping and greed.

If we welcome God’s gift, history changes starting with each one of us. Once Jesus dwells in our heart, the center of life is no longer my ravenous and selfish ego, but the One who is born and lives for life. Let us ask ourselves, “What is the bread of my life, what is it that I cannot do without? Is it the Lord, or something else?”

 Francis continued to talk about Bethlehem, the city of David. David the shepherd knew God’s protective presence in his great loves and his great sufferings. And Jesus, the Son of David, was born among shepherds.

The shepherds of Bethlehem tell us how to prepare and meet the Lord. They were alert, waiting, watchful. Our lives can be marked by “waiting:” we hope in the Lord and yearn for his coming, and receive his life. Or our lives can be marked by “wanting:” all that matters are our strengths, abilities and achievements and then our hearts remain barred to God’s light.

The Lord loves to be awaited, so when we hear God’s summons like the shepherds, we can set out, leave our flocks unguarded, and take a risk for God.

 Francis cannot help but pray. Most of his homily was a prayer. By the end the prayer was palpable:

To keep watch, to set out, to risk, to recount the beauty: all these are acts of love. “Let us go now to Bethlehem.” We too, Lord, want to go to Bethlehem, and today too, the road is uphill.

But there you await me. Lying in a manger, you are the bread of my life. I need your love so I, in turn, can be bread broken for the world.

In God’s presence, we can all be as children.

*   *   *

Take me upon your shoulders, Good Shepherd, loved by you, I can love my brothers and sisters. Then it will be Christmas, when I can say to you, “Lord, you know everything: you know that I love you.”

(this was the end of his homily, and the end of his prayer)

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