A Christmas reflection

Picture of David Hore CSsR

David Hore CSsR

David is a Redemptorist priest and writer

In a year which has brought more sorrow and pain to the people of Ukraine who are fighting Russian aggression; disastrous wildfires in Europe and Canada; an earthquake in Morocco, floods in parts of Europe and Libya, and the terrorist attack on Israel, and the ongoing struggles of
the Palestinians, it is easy to forget God’s loving presence in the world. This reflection from David Hore CSsR reminds us that despite the horrors we read and hear on the daily news, God is always with us.


Avery Dulles, who died before Christmas in 2008, was a distinguished theologian, Jesuit priest and a member of the College of Cardinals.


Reflecting on Christmas, he once wrote: 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 the heart of everything that is and, there, find it shimmering with divinity.”


These words became very personal for Avery Dulles when he experienced his own pain. He had been seriously ill for some time prior to his death, afflicted by growing paralysis which saw him lose the ability to speak and to move his arms.


Avery Dulles knew well that God’s presence in our world, through the birth of Jesus, doesn’t take us beyond our struggles and our pain. He believed that, rather, it helps us to look honestly at ourselves.


Avery Dulles looked honestly at his situation and found words of embrace and acceptance: “I can identify with the many paralytics and mute persons in the Gospels, grateful for the loving and skillful care I receive and for the hope of everlasting life in Christ. If the Lord now calls me to a period of weakness, I know well that his power can be made perfect in infirmity. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”


Christmas leads us directly to God’s divine love – a love so great that God chose to dwell with us in the fullness of our humanity, one like us in all things but sin. Through Jesus’ birth everything is touched by God.


May the light of Christ within us glow with divinity so we may bring happiness, peace, and joy into the lives of those around us.


Footnote: Cardinal Dulles was a professor of religion at Fordham University in New York for 20 years prior to his death. He was a prolific author and lecturer and an elder statesman of Catholic theology in America. A conservative theologian in an era of liturgical reforms and rising secularism, Cardinal Dulles wrote 27 books and 800 articles, mostly on theology. He advised the Vatican and America’s bishops, and staunchly defended the pope and his church against demands for change on abortion, artificial birth control, priestly celibacy, the ordination of women and other issues. Brought up in a Presbyterian family, he was an agnostic in the 1930s before converting to Catholicism in 1940. He died in 2008 aged 90.



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