Monday, December 31, 2007

31 December
Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas

Readings: 1 John 2:18-21; Psalm 96:1-2, 11-12, 13; John 1:1-18

There’s more than meets the eye…

I’m not much of a fan of the Transformers, but there is truth in the tagline popularized by the cartoon series. And it’s probably one of the invaluable lessons we learnt on our recent trip to the mountains. Three of us were sent to a place that had not been visited by any of our predecessors. This was virgin territory as far as Jesuits were concerned. Not even our superior was sure what to expect. We were only given the impression that it would be very remote and very rural, with few modern amenities and conveniences. Yet the scene that greeted us as we alighted from the bus was not unlike any sleepy provincial capital. There were banks and schools, jeepneys and tricycles. All of which moved one of us to exclaim, with thinly veiled relief, that things weren’t so bad. However, in the days that followed, that same person, who had passed that rather premature verdict, was to discover that there was more to the place than what we saw at the bus station. He was sent by the local bishop to minister in a remote parish where, as it turned out, there were no roads. He had to hike an average of three hours every day, through mountainous terrain.

There’s more than meets the eye…

Isn’t this also a key lesson that our readings are trying to teach us on this seventh day in the octave of Christmas? The gospel proclaims to us that the helpless and innocent baby seen lying in a manger is nothing less than the Eternal Word, who was with God, and was God, right from the beginning. And all things came to be through him… Unbelievable! Inconceivable! Isn’t this why we are taking the trouble to lengthen our celebrations of Christmas Day over eight calendar days: to allow time for the eyes of our hearts to see beyond appearances, to recognize the Eternal in the infant, the Omnipotent in the powerless?

And that’s not all. For we are told that the Word is also the Light. He comes to dispel the shadows, to pierce through appearances, even the semblance of religious devotion. Isn’t this what we find in the first reading? For a time, the antichrists mentioned there appeared to be part of the Christian community. They probably faithfully attended Mass every week. Perhaps they were even active members of some parish organizations. But there comes a point when the appearances are stripped away, when these people are shown to be deserters of the faith, when it becomes clear that none of them was of our number. And the decisive sign of their status as outsiders? Their unwillingness to accept the mind-blowing truth that God could, and would, actually become a man, that the Divine could actually be found in the human.

Isn’t this yet another reason why it is good for us to linger before the babe in the manger? Not only are we searching for God, but we are also allowing God to search us, to enlighten every nook and cranny of our hearts and lives, so that, as we prayed in the opening prayer today, our religion might indeed have its origin and perfect fulfillment in the birth of the Son of God.

There’s more than meets the eye… Are we ready to see it?


  1. Welcome back, Fr. Chris!
    Here's wishing you a blessed 2008.
    May the love of Christ continue to reign in your heart. God bless.

  2. Ours is a God of surprises and paradoxes.

    In a way that only He can, God *transforms* lives beyond imagining.

    May the Infant God endow us with the gift of "seeing" His action in our lives behind the surprises and paradoxes.

    A grace-filled new year of divine surprises to one and all.