In the years from 2006, I made every effort to be down at the LA Cathedral for Christmas Midnight Mass and Easter morning services. Having given my heart to Jesus “for healing” back in 2002, on first encounter I was pretty direct upon approaching the crucifix set behind the altar. Looking into the serene visage, I gestured to the twisted limbs and observed, “It’s time to clean all of this up.”
My interaction with the brotherhood has been complex, and sometimes contentious. So when I moved another twenty miles up the freeway into Ventura, it was with some relief that I decided to spend Christmas down at the local parish, rather than making the trip to Los Angeles.
Though my mother asked pointedly whether I intended to go.
I also passed on Easter.
For some reason, I feel a greater receptivity now. I’ve had a number of dreams about Christmas Eve down at the Cathedral, including sharing words with the community. I began this writing before Thanksgiving, but became mired in theological resistance.
I sent out the message that love won’t manifest against resistance. It must be welcomed. A breakthrough of sorts happened last weekend, and I felt the resistance melt away. The words come forth easily.
I was down at the Ventura Government Center for jury duty, and worried through the last of the wording this morning. I do tend to become a little abstract. I hope that it conveys the meaning.
We are so very close. I do my best to mark the way.
The Age Upon Us
Hello, dear friends.
May all the blessings of this day be upon you.
Summoned by the cry of broken hearts, I first came here fifteen years ago. Thus it was to the sweet virgin, witness to the suffering of her people, praying that the Father might bring forth a savior from among her sisters. After Gabri-el revealed her role, the jewel of feminine compassion said simply, “Here am I.”
So I say now: “Here am I.”
That is all the introduction I have for you. The rest is not important, for the gifts of this day descend from a greater source.
In Genesis, when God arrives, the earth is declaimed as “formless and void.” That is to say: nothing found there had any purpose, nor any soul. The molten lava flowed and cooled. Rock ground against itself, creating nothing. Water washed against the rock, forming beds of clay, but no life sprang forth.
The Love that is God seeks to make relationships marvelous, and the Bible records His gifts. The first were simple: light, ground and rain.
Of these gifts God sought to raise creatures that loved as He did. Three billion years later, He crouched on the ground, remembering, and bestowed upon Adam the ability to love. Having compassion on Adam’s loneliness, God found a companion, and Eve was given Adam’s heart to tend, and bore witness to Adam’s virtue.
I remind you of these things to clarify the gifts of this day. Jesus lived forty years on this Earth. He walked among us, and we remember this day because he died to give proof to the undying power of love. But we should set that forty years against the three billion that preceded it. If we are amazed at what Jesus accomplished in forty years, how can we describe the tenderness, strength, and determination of the Father? Can we even begin to grasp it?
Three billion years. As it is said: “I am less than a worm.”
But the Father finds joy in us. Look around you. See the rock, polished and cast. We give form and purpose to it. Our gratitude secures a sanctuary for the burdened. Our souls expand, filling the world with the love we receive.
That is to say – as he is love – that we fill the world with God.
That is the specific gift of this day. Love descended to us. Secure in Mary’s incorruptible womb, love joined flesh, and walked among us.
This sounds simple, but is not easy to understand. What did it mean for Christ to descend from heaven? Why did he need to come in the flesh? Why did he need to suffer and die on the cross?
We come together tonight not only to honor Mary and Jesus, but because on this night the Most High comes closer to us. We see beauty, we hear it in voices and instruments, we see it in the faces of those we love. This beauty washes against our troubles and strife, and if we raise our faces and hearts in gratitude, we feel the Most High fill our cup to the brim.
There are those among you that know this to be true. You are near to the saints.
But is it for you that Jesus came?
Why would that glorious spirit, replete in the presence of his Father’s love, descend for the saintly? Would they not be served better if he stayed to prepare a place for them?
Let me remind you: there are those among us that dare not raise their hearts. They are like Peter on the boat after the fish rush to fill the nets, fallen to his knees, pleading “Go away from me, master, for I am a sinner!”
How many of us have felt that shame? Feared that God would turn away from us?
“Oh, you of little faith!” was the rebuke from Jesus. That was to say “Believe in yourself! Believe that you are beloved by the Most High! Believe that you should share the joy of my service to Him!”
St. Theresa of Avila wrote:
O Lord of my soul and my Good! There are souls so determined to love you that they gladly abandon everything to focus on nothing but loving you. Why don’t you want them to immediately ascend to a place where they may receive the joyful gift of perfect love?
The answer being: because God needs us here to fill the world with love.
Not only on Calvary. Not only on Christmas Day. Not only in this church. But everywhere, every day.
In this Age, Jesus commanded that we “pick up our cross.” But that is not the goal of love. Let us talk of the New Age: A day will come without suffering, without fear, without grief. It is the day from which the power of the love that surrounds us will chase those experiences from our lives.
In that future we will find, like the five thousand, that when we gather what little we have, it is multiplied until it is more than enough. Illness will fade when our sister gazes upon us with compassion. Conflict will flee when our brother prays that our ambition be tempered by good will.
Can we glimpse that day? Here? Now?
Let us try!
Oh, you saints, remember the grace of those two: the woman and the child that were touched by heaven, yet chose to serve us. Take the hands of those you love, and lift your hearts to the Most High. Feel his gaze upon you. Feel the tenderness, the patience, the strength. Behind it the unending ocean of his love. Allow that love to fill your heart.
Thus was the Sacred Mother. Thus was the Lamb.
Rest there, you saints, for now I must address others.
Oh, you weary and burdened. You that bear witness to the sorrows of the world. You are not forgotten.
They descended to serve you. Mary and Jesus: they became flesh so that they might feel your anguish, and bear witness to the sin that oppresses you. It is you that matter, you weary and burdened, for you test the submission of the saints to the love of the Most High.
Lean your sorrows upon me, oh you weary and burdened.
Here am I.
Oh, you saints, do you feel them among you? This is the purpose for your hearts: that as did Jesus, you might share your love. Open your hearts and minds now, and robe the weary and burdened in your grace. See in your hearts that they will find, in the coming year, all that they need, because those that have means to comfort them will receive something in exchange: the certitude of the New Age prophesied by Jesus. Not as a distant promise glimpsed from 2000 years ago, but as a palpable nearness in the heart.
That will be an age when the rich will not hoard their wealth, because they will have the security of fast friendship. It will be an age in which no one asks “What’s in it for me?” because they know that in sharing what they have, their hearts expand to receive ever more of the limitless power of the Most High.
Do you not feel it, oh you saints? Is there not still more? Let it pour out from you into the world! Through the streets, into the dark corners. Across rivers, plains and oceans. Into every heart that craves the hope birthed on this day.
Jesus was not born into comfort. Mary did not labor in a feather bed. This is the gift of this day: they brought love to the world so that we might know that all the world is sacred, that we were meant to be sacred, and that the Most High is determined that all should be redeemed.
Mold with the redwoods. Worms with the eagles. Shepherds with kings. And those oppressed by sin with the saints.
Oh my friends! Let us be worthy of our brother! Let us worship with every breath, with every touch. Let us worship in the temple of the Most High. Let us worship in the temple of our hearts.
Merry Christmas! And blessings be upon you all!