b) Jesus—Christmas

He who sees Jesus sees the Father (John 14:9)

Jesus—Christmas:
Top Quotes

  1. “Christmas changes everything. No other religion believes that God became a human being… we Christians believe that God became one of us…. we Christians believe that we encounter God, not in sacred places, but in other human beings… because of Christmas, we Christians worship God by loving God in each other.” (Fr Peter McVerry)
  2. “Jesus brings us a spiritual energy, an energy which helps us not to despair in our struggle, in our hopelessness, in our sadness, for it is an energy that warms and transforms the heart.” (Pope Francis)
  3. “The Birth of Jesus brings us the good news that we are loved immensely and uniquely by God.” (Pope Francis)
  4. “The essence of Christmas is the ‘showing forth’ of Christ, so that we understand who he is and what he means, as far as this can be possible.” (Sister Wendy Beckett)
  5. “A baby, gently and helplessly and disarmingly, calls forth what’s best in us.” (Fr Ron Rolheiser)
  6. “Advent is a praying time, when we are called to take even just a few minutes to think about the reality of Jesus and pray to long for him.” (Sister Wendy Beckett)
  7. “It is Jesus and his birth that we celebrate, not just togetherness.” (Sister Wendy Beckett)
  8. “If we are to enter into the wonder of Christmas, we must actively embrace the love that Jesus makes visible. We cannot just go through the motions, going to Mass, giving presents, offering hospitality…. We must take active steps.” (Sister Wendy Beckett)
  9. “He is infinitely close to us, but we cannot “find” unless we too—like the Wise Men—take trouble, and search.” (Sister Wendy Beckett)
  10. “Jesus will reveal himself to us exactly to the degree that we want him.” (Sister Wendy Beckett)
  11. “Christmas is about God being born physically and historically into this world.” (Fr Ron Rolheiser)
  12. “Christmas brings us all back to the crib of life to start over again: aware of what has gone before, conscious that nothing can last, but full of hope that this time, finally, we can learn what it takes to live well.” (Fr Ron Rolheiser)
  13. “Familiarity breeds contempt…. This, perhaps more than anything else, prevents us from entering the mystery of Christmas, from seeing God’s radiance shimmering under the surface of what’s familiar to us.” (Fr Ron Rolheiser)
  14. “Christmas is God’s answer to human longing.” (Fr Ron Rolheiser)
  15. “Let us thank the Lord for having given Jesus to us.” (Pope Francis)

 Full Quotes:
Jesus—Christmas

“Christmas changes everything. No other religion believes that God became a human being… we Christians believe that God became one of us…. we Christians believe that we encounter God, not in sacred places, but in other human beings… because of Christmas, we Christians worship God by loving God in each other. “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do it to me.” (Matthew 25:40).

Because of Christmas, every human being has become a brother and sister of the Son of God and therefore a child of God. Because of Christmas, the whole human race is one family, God’s family.

… Jesus came to show us how live as God’s family. He gathered a group of disciples who, during the life of Jesus, lived together with him as God wishes us to live together. … After the death and resurrection of Jesus, their mission was to continue to show the rest of the world how live together as God’s family. When others looked at this community, they were astonished. They could not understand the total self-sacrificing love which those in the community had for each other. “See how they love one another,” they exclaimed in amazement. … But Jesus warned them that if the community stopped loving each other with this self-sacrificing love, then “the salt will lose its flavour and be good for nothing but to be trampled underfoot” (Matthew 5:13-16). That’s the responsibility we take on when we become Christians.”

— Fr Peter McVerry, SJ, in his monthly article in the Redemptorists’ ‘Reality’ magazine, December 2014, entitled ‘The Meaning of Christmas’

“Hence the great “gift” of the Child of Bethlehem: He brings us a spiritual energy, an energy which helps us not to despair in our struggle, in our hopelessness, in our sadness, for it is an energy that warms and transforms the heart.

Indeed, the Birth of Jesus brings us the good news that we are loved immensely and uniquely by God, and he not only enables us to know this love, he also gives it to us, he communicates it to us!

— Pope Francis, in a ‘General Audience’ in St Peter’s Square, 18th December 2013

  • The essence of Christmas is the ‘showing forth’ of Christ, so that we understand who he is and what he means, as far as this can be possible. The greatness of God will always elude our full understanding, but we can come ever closer.
    (page 43, the beginning of a reflection on the painting ‘The Baptism of Christ’ by Pietro Perugino)
  • “For us, Advent is the time when the Church asks us to look seriously at how real to us is the incarnation. How does Christ’s coming affect the way we live? It is a praying time, when we are called to take even just a few minutes to think about the reality of Jesus and pray to long for him.”
    (pages 4-5, in a reflection on the third-century fresco ‘Orante‘ in the Catacomb of Priscilla)
  • “The nativity, which we call Christmas, is a mystery beyond all understanding. All that matters is to believe it.”
    (page 7, in a reflection on the painting ‘Annuciation’ by El Greco)
  • “Ideally the four weeks of Advent are a season of prayer, in which we have the opportunity to look again at the meaning of our life and at how much or how little it is energised by the reality of the incarnation. We have only one life, each of us with our own failures and weakness, and the need to receive the transforming grace of Jesus should always be pressing upon us.
  • Advent calls us to stop and think on this. But for everyone, the season of Advent is also the busiest time of the year. There is so much to be done to prepare for Christmas: cards, presents, the planning of meals, hospitality in general. Leaving aside whether we actually need to do all this, and whether it could not all be simplified, the actuality of most lives during Advent is emphatically not one of contemplation. We can benefit from moments, each day, that we set aside just to keep ourselves grounded in the faith. (It is Jesus and his birth that we celebrate, not just togetherness.)”
    (pages 15-16, discussing the painting ‘The Numbering at Bethlehem’ by Pieter Brueghel the Elder)
  • “Idyllic pictures of the stable, with Mary and Joseph and the child, perfectly reflect this ideal Christmas, this happy and glorious expression of our joy in and gratitude for Christ’s coming. In practice, though, the Christmas experience is all too often a tiring and testing time…. The shining light of Christmas may reveal an unseemly darkness.”
    (page 19, in discussing the painting ‘Mystic Nativity’ by Botticelli)
  • “If we are to enter into the wonder of Christmas, we must actively embrace the love that Jesus makes visible. We cannot just go through the motions, going to Mass, giving presents, offering hospitality. Jesus came to save us from ourselves, but we must use and grasp his grace, we must take active steps. (page 21, in discussing the painting ‘Mystic Nativity’ by Botticelli)
  • The Magi are welcomed by Jesus because they want him. They have taken great trouble, come a long way, made sacrifices, only so as to find him. He is infinitely close to us, but we cannot “find” unless we too take trouble, and search. Jesus will reveal himself to us exactly to the degree that we want him.
    (page 41, the end of a reflection on the painting ‘Adoration of the Magi’ by Abraham Bloemaert)

— Sr Wendy Beckett, in her book ‘The Art of Christmas’, Redemptorist Publications, Hampshire, England, 2008 (ISBN 978-0-85231-354-1)

“Christmas is about much deeper things than Santa and the birth of Jesus is not just some delightful fairy tale meant to warm the heart. We measure time by this event. Christmas is about God being born physically and historically into this world and, among many other things, we have some stunning lessons to learn from the manner in which this happened.

As virtually all of our iconography around Christmas makes clear, God is born, not as some superstar whose earthly power, beauty, and muscle dwarf us. No. God is born as helpless, vulnerable, thoroughly under-whelming baby who looks out at us quietly even as we look back at him and he judges us in that way that vulnerability forever judges false strength, transparency judges lies, generosity judges selfishness, innocence judges over-sophistication, and a baby, gently and helplessly and disarmingly, calls forth what’s best in us.

Christmas is meant to bring us back to the crib so that our hearts can feel that freshness that wants to make us start living over again.”

— Fr Ron Rolheiser, OMI, in his December 16th 2007 weekly column ‘An Invitation Inside of Christmas

“Mary gave birth to the Christ in a stable because there was no room for them in the inn. This is a comment on more than just the busyness and inhospitality of some ancient innkeeper. It is a comment upon what, in fact, lies deepest within human life. In essence, what it says is that it is not those who sit at the center of things — the powerful, the rich, the famous, the government leaders, the entertainment celebrities, the corporate heads, the scholars and academics — who ultimately sit at the center of life. What’s deepest and most meaningful inside of life lies in anonymity, unnoticed by the powerful, tenderly swaddled in faith, outside the city.”

— Fr Ron Rolheiser, OMI, in his December 12th 2010 weekly column ‘No Room in the Inn

“What does Christmas mean? Christmas is like a perfectly-cut diamond twirling in the sun, giving off an array of sparkles. Here are just some of its meanings:

•       A four-year-old child woke up one night frightened, convinced that there were all kinds of spooks and monsters in her room. In terror she fled to her parents’ bedroom. Her mother took her back to her room and, after soothing her fears, assured her that it was safe there: “You don’t need to be afraid. After I leave, you won’t be alone in the room. God will be here with you!” “I know that God will be here,” the child protested, “but I need someone in this room who has some skin.” The word was made flesh and dwelt among us. John 1, 14

•       God is not found in monasteries, but in our homes. Wherever you find husband and wife, that’s where you find God; wherever children and petty cares and cooking and arguments and reconciliation are, that’s where God is too. The God I’m telling about, the domestic one, not the monastic one, that’s the real God. Nikos Kazantzakis

•        Every year of life waxes and wanes. Every stage of life comes and goes. Every facet of life is born and then dies. Every good moment is doomed to become only a memory. Every perfect period of living slips through our fingers and disappears. Every hope dims and every possibility turns eventually to dry clay. Until Christmas comes again. Then we are called at the deepest, most subconscious, least cognizant level to begin to live again. Christmas brings us all back to the crib of life to start over again: aware of what has gone before, conscious that nothing can last, but full of hope that this time, finally, we can learn what it takes to live well, grow to full stature of soul and spirit, and get it right. Joan Chittister

•        After a mother has smiled for a long time at her child, the child will begin to smile back; she has awakened love in its heart, and in awakening love in its heart, she awakes also recognition. In the same way, God awakes Himself before us as love. Love radiates from God and instills the light of love in our hearts. Hans Urs Von Balthasar

•       At Christmas, through his grace-filled birth, God says to the world: “I am there. I am with you. I am your life. … Do not be afraid to be happy. For ever since I wept, joy is the standard of living that is really more suitable than the anxiety and grief of those who think they have no hope. … This reality, this incomparable wonder of my almighty love, I have sheltered safely in the cold stable of your world. I am there. I no longer go away from this world. Even if you do not see me. I am there.  It is Christmas. Light the candles! They have more right to exist than all the darkness. It is Christmas. Christmas lasts forever.”  Karl Rahner

•       Some of the Church Fathers compared Jesus to a singer with a strong voice and a perfect pitch who joins a discordant choir and completely transforms it. It is not that Jesus gave us a different set of songs to sing, but helped us instead to perform our standard repertoire in an entirely new and more beautiful way. Richard McBrien

•        The incarnation does not mean that God saves us from the pains of this life. It means that God-is-with-us. For the Christian, just as for everyone else, there will be cold, lonely seasons, seasons of sickness, seasons of frustration, and a season within which we will die. Christmas does not give us a ladder to climb out of the human condition. It gives us a drill that lets us burrow into heart of everything that is and, there, find it shimmering with divinity.  Avery Dulles

— Fr Ron Rolheiser, OMI, in his December 19th 2010 weekly column ‘The Rich Meaning of Christmas

“Familiarity breeds contempt. That’s an archetypal flaw within human nature. And this, perhaps more than anything else, prevents us from entering the mystery of Christmas, from seeing God’s radiance shimmering under the surface of what’s familiar to us.”

— Fr Ron Rolheiser, OMI, in his December 18th 2011 weekly column ‘Praying so as to see God’s Glory inside of Humanity

Christmas is God’s answer to human longing, God’s response to the centuries of prayers that lay hidden in our groaning, our sighs, our frustrations, and our religious efforts, each of them a plea, mostly silent, for a divine intervention, all of them asking God to come and rid the world of injustice and our hearts of loneliness and heartache.

…. The power of Christmas is like the power of a baby, it underwhelms in such a way so as to eventually overwhelm. There is a greater power than muscle, speed, charism, unstoppable force: If you were to put a baby into a room with the heavy-weight boxing champion of the world, who ultimately would be the stronger? The boxer could kill the baby, but, no doubt, wouldn’t, precisely because something inside the baby’s powerlessness would overwhelm the boxer. Such is the way of God, the message of Christmas.

…. An infant lying in the straw in Bethlehem didn’t outgun anyone. He just lay there, waiting for anyone, good or bad, to come to him, see his helplessness, feel a tug at his or her heart strings, and then gently try to coax a smile or a word out of him. That’s still how God meets us.”

— Fr Ron Rolheiser, OMI, in his weekly column as it appeared here too

“The grace which was revealed in our world is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God. He has entered our history; he has shared our journey….

He is the meaning of life and history, who has pitched his tent in our midst. The shepherds were the first to see this “tent”, to receive the news of Jesus’ birth. They were the first because they were among the last, the outcast. And they were the first because they were awake, keeping watch in the night, guarding their flocks. The pilgrim is bound by duty to keep watch and the shepherds did just that.

Together with them, let us pause before the Child, let us pause in silence. Together with them, let us thank the Lord for having given Jesus to us.”

— Pope Francis, in his Midnight Mass Christmas Homily 24 December, 2013

christmas crib joseph mary jesus

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