The Poor Clares: Of the Father's love begotten
The birth of a baby must be one of the most beautiful and awesome miracles to transform a family.
At our home, the telephone minutes reached a peak; we kids (willingly!) cleaned the house like never before, transforming the rooms with flowers and presents for Mom and our new sibling; and neighbors and friends were well aware of the new kid on the block because of the large hand-painted poster displayed in the front yard. No one could match our excitement and joy over the arrival home of Mom and the baby – no one, that is, except for Dad. When a father welcomes the life of his newborn child into this world, only Heaven can understand the mystery of the love and pride carried within the paternal heart.
A little over 2,000 years ago, Heaven itself was part of the most mysterious and beautiful birth ever to take place, and this time the paternal heart was God's. On a night when most of the world was asleep or engaged in mundane affairs, Heaven was turned upside down, so to speak, when the Son of God was born on earth. Have you ever considered what this meant from the viewpoint of the heart of God the Father?
Human dads are quick to spread the joyous birth announcement of their new child to family and friends. God the Father also sent a messenger of the tidings of His Son's birth. An angel appeared to the shepherds and declared, "I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." The Father wanted people to know about the birth of His Son as the gift He was sending to mankind to draw us all to Himself.
The gift of a child is the fruit of love between a husband and wife, and when parents welcome a new baby, the family can feel the warmth of love increase within the home. In the Incarnation and Nativity of Christ, God wed Himself to mankind – divinity embracing humanity – and the Incarnate Word brought the Kingdom of Love into the hearts of sinful men. Through His Son, God the Father wanted to show us just how much He loves us and desires us to love Him in return.
Expressing this invitation of God's love, the 11th-century theologian and mystic William of St-Thierry wrote in a meditation, "You first loved us so that we might love You – not because You needed our love, but because we could not be what You created us to be, except by loving You." And it is through Jesus that the Father makes Himself known to us. The Second Vatican Council said in "Dei Verbum," "To see (Christ) is to see the Father also." The Father sent His Son so that we might become His children who respond in love and cry out "Abba! Father!"
The question to ask ourselves this Advent and Christmas is how are we going to respond to the gift and invitation of God the Father through the birth of Christ? Two thousand years ago, the Father waited for the response of men and women. Some replied in humble gratitude and adoration, like the poor shepherds and the Magi. Others rejected this new life and love and either ignored the gift or sought to destroy it, as in the case of Herod.
Now it is our turn to respond.
Just as the proud and joyful father here on earth looks for others to share in his delight, so God the Father eagerly awaits our response this Christmas. Let us be quick to prepare our souls – our interior homes – for the arrival of the Infant King. Let us share the wondrous news with those around us. And let us gratefully love our Father who is in Heaven.
-- Sister Mary Raphael of the Divine Physician is professed with the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration St. Joseph Monastery in Charlotte. This is part of a monthly commentary by the Poor Clares to focus on topics of faith and to address questions about religious life. Learn more about the community and subscribe to their newsletter by going online to www.stjosephmonastery.com.
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FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy