God comes to us in the ordinariness of a child

By 
  • December 20, 2012

The Greek god Janus, after whom the month of January is named, is said to have two faces, one looking to the past and the other looking to the future. The end of the year challenges us to look to the past and future as we take inventory of the choices we’ve made and the goals and direction of our personal and group life.

Some questions in particular should come to mind at year’s end:

What have I done for my God through the life I am living and the choices I make?

What have I done for my neighbour without counting the cost?

What have I done with my life this year?

What should I do through my faith to bring joy and peace to my troubled soul and to heal the wounds of sin, divisions in my family and conflicts and deceptions in my private and public life?

The Year of Faith particularly offers Catholics the grace to embrace anew the treasures of the faith and to journey into the future with Jesus as our guide.

Whether or not someone believes in God they approach life through a centre of meaning and value. Religious faith is a centring of life’s meaning and value on God as the beginning and end of all things. Religious faith not only centres our lives on God, but it grounds our understanding of human identity and human destiny. Faith is my centre of meaning and value.

Indeed, religious faith shapes our beliefs, ethics, spirituality, history, future and happiness. Religious faith, then, is the centring of one’s life on God from an experience of God’s love. It floods the soul with a knowledge of God based on one’s personal encounter with Him.

Religious faith, within the Christian tradition, is not simply emotions, perceptions and feelings about the presence of God in our lives. It is trust in God, a conviction about the certainty of the things we hope for and the promise of things we do not yet see (Hebrews 11:1-3). It is a commitment to God and a God-centred ethics.

More than the accumulation of propositions, religious truths and creeds about God, religious faith means personally embracing those truths out of love, confidence and conviction in the God who concretely reveals these truths in our daily personal encounters. Religious faith is an encounter with God, a union with God, a friendship and intimacy with God and an immersion in God’s love.

This is particularly so in Christianity, which professes that God’s interaction in our lives has been revealed through His Son, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. Christ’s birth is not simply a yearly ritual, but is an opportunity to encounter God again by re-centring our lives on what is necessary to realize our purpose on Earth. The Catholic faith provides a narrative of God interacting in human lives. It upholds that faith is a loving encounter with our God who reaches out to us in love and reveals Godself to us. Our faith is a loving invitation to be in relationship with God and with our brothers and sisters and the world of nature because of God.

In his book Letters from the Desert, the monk Carlo Carrotto tells Christians that it pays once in a while in our busy lives to stop and reflect on what God is saying to our world through the events and tragedies in life. Carotto says that if we pay attention to God, if we focus life’s goals on God, then we can hear God gently telling us: Be patient with yourself, learn to wait for each other, learn to wait for God, and learn to wait for love, for happiness and for answers from God for whatever burdens your soul.

If we realize that God is within us and that we are in God, then we can trust that God has written a wonderful plot for our lives and will work with us to face the challenges and joys of tomorrow. God is present in our lives not as an angry, vengeful God waiting to punish us when we fail, but as a loving and merciful God who lifts us up when we fall.

And He comes to us at Christmas in the ordinariness of a child.

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