It’s the morning after. Maybe it is a better day to reflect what Christmas really means to our life. In my own unpacking, I asked, “Did love exists before Jesus came into our world?” Afterall, the tone in the Old Testament is quite different from that in the New Testament.
“At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our own time, the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son, the Son that he has appointed to inherit everything and through whom he made everything there is.” (Second Reading, Christmas Mass during the day)
In the beginning was the Word. Yes, love existed since time began. We were all made in the likeness of the Creator, and God is Love. The tide of time always brings about changes but throughout the centuries of time God is “I am”, unchanged. Love is the only constant in our constantly changing world. If love has not changed, then what follows is that our expressions of love are what changed.
Time never stops, as we seen from the Old to the New Testaments, she keeps introducing changes to our thinking, interpretations, and concepts of life. Together with development and progress, our lifestyles constantly evolve, our practices changed. And so, against this backdrop, our expressions of God’s Love must also change to remain relevant, bearing in mind that God has never changed. I reflect on this today from the viewpoint of the ministry I am involved in as a lay person, a mission reaching out to Catholics away from Church, the baptised who cannot find relevance.
Yesterday at our Christmas mass, the cathedral was more than full. I have never seen so many people wanting to be at mass. I am sure that at every parish around the world there was this increase in numbers. Christmas Day is the occasion many people away from Church would choose to come for mass, if they only come once a year. The Spirit must have moved them, even if they did not realise. Would they ask, if prompted, “Where is this God who has come to dwell amidst us? Where is He in my personal life?”
Who are we called to evangelise to, today? Only those who do not know Christ, or also the increasing number of baptised who have slipped away but would return to a more active faith life if they find relevance? Advent had prepared us to celebrate Christmas every day in life. As the laity, we are the prophets of today, sharers of the Christmas message that God remains relevant and He is with us, in our midst. We are called to bring this gift of change to the baptised who cannot find relevance. How do we breach this disconnect for them? It all begins with awareness and simple tweaks in expressions.
These are my ideas, and you will have yours. We begin reaching out to someone away from Church by understanding and accepting the situation they find themselves in. They are not desperate to return. This is no longer the old days. Sometimes the little things we do in expressing our faith can annoy some of them and drive them even farther away. For example, today quoting Scriptures as the first thing we do to someone away from Church is not the wisest way of approach. For some, being quoted scripture is a big put-off. It is certainly not the way to make the path straight for them. What ways and expressions are we used to that are more obstructive than helpful in today’s times?
This week, as we approach another new year, is a good time to dwell in these thoughts. We are all bearers of this Gift of Change, what must we change to help change the lives of others? To the numbers who came en masse yesterday, the baptised who come once a year, would it have been different for them if the Church had tweaked her liturgy to include a message of welcome, and an acknowledgment of their presence?
Day after Christmas, 2022