As a Church we are meditating on the stories of the Birth of Christ and we have as a background the First Letter of John. We hear powerful words: fellowship, light/darkness, love/hate.
If we believe that Christ is truly born, then we can live a new type of lifestyle: we are in fellowship with God and with one another; if we believe that Christ is truly born, then we see the world differently because He is the light that pierces through the darkness; if we believe that Christ is born, then we see each other differently and we realize that the Fellowship we have with God is lived out by loving each other.
How often I see Christianity reduced to some form of devotionalism (“I say my prayers, I go to a prayer meeting or adoration… I am fine with God”), or a form of activism (“I do a lot of charity work, so I am doing fine”) or a form of Gnosticism (“I read a lot/know a lot about God… so I am fine”). But John the Evangelist tells us that our life as Christian is based on a Fellowship: all these things, prayer, works of Charity and learning about God, sustain our fellowship but do take its place. But fellowships point to a relationship and these are “lived out” every day, concretely. And this is the hardest part of Christianity: living out a coherent lifestyle.
Today we take a further step. I read somewhere “Beginnings are hard.” How true is that! Every time I start something new I always feel mixed emotions: enthusiasm and excitement but also anxiety that comes from knowing that I am about to do something new. How appropriate that we read this Gospel passage today: in the Presentation of the Lord to the Temple we see the “old and the new” meeting each other. While I see “Prophecy” and “Fulfillment” dialoguing together, I can’t help thinking of my old year and the new one. These two dimensions do not take each other out but complement and must be integrated.
Our life of Fellowship with God and Neighbor is hard. The reading given to us today makes us aware that this Fellowship must be concrete. John helps us by making us aware of two things: 1) we must live the Word (this will help up to avoid turning Christianity into something made in our own image); 2) we must focus on Reciprocal Love. This last point seems to be the obsession of John. I understand who important Reciprocal Love is. Only when we love we can experience and understand Christianity fully.
Then I know how we can continue to live these days of Christmas: clothing ourselves with the Word and let the Word of God shapes every gesture of ours so that by the way we Love one another we can let Jesus be born everywhere and in everyone we meet today.
This Christmas leads us to new beginnings. They are hard, but with Christ with us they can be possible.