Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Top Ten Reasons
Why Christ and Christmas

Father John J. Lombardi

I was recently all caught up in the rush of Christmas preparation and then thought: Like Charlie Brown in the Peanuts Christmas Special, "Does anyone know the meaning of Christmas?"

We can all lose focus amidst the materialist-harried hocus pocus--even priests. While in the seminary I once read a famous book called "Cur Deus Homo-Why the God -Man?" by St. Anselm (an Italian-Englishman!). In the Middle Ages there was a Great Debate-Why Did God come to earth? And: If Adam and Eve wouldn't have sinned, would He have come anyway? Short answer: Some (Scotists, named after Duns Scotus, a Scotch theologian and Franciscan) said Yes, Jesus would have come without us sinning to fully manifest God's Glory. Others, like St Thomas Aquinas (Dominican) said, Christ incarnated to save us from sins-that's why He came…Both are right but the latter more so. Let's always remember: The Incarnation is the Most Glorious Work of God!

Point: We are often caught up in busy activities and good pursuits but sometimes fail to ask The Right Question: Just why did Jesus come? So, to help prepare you for Christmas (yes: we've still a week to go), consider-deeply (meditation) the following in your prayer.

Top Ten Reasons Why Christ-Christmas

1. SOS: Christ Jesus is the Savior Of Sinners: this is The Most Important Reason for the Season-we can never forget/neglect or reject that He came to ransom us-from sin and Hell and death, and to "de-glue" us from the curse of evil. Basically God said: Enough's enough already-and then He came, kinda like in a kidnapping-He became the Ransom-money for our freedom. You can call it -as many do these days-an intervention: He saw us struggling in the wrestling ring with the Devil's aw us losing, and came down, separated us, gave us refreshment in our "corner" and sends us back in The Match to fight again. He loved us so much he came down for us. Just think about His Name--Jesus= "He shall save them from their sins" and also Savior. Now, in response we should love Him, thank Him: forever! He is our Amazing Grace that came to the rescue! Now, you ask, How does God save us? He saves us in four main ways: By Calvary/ theCross: His Body and Blood is like a key which instantly opens a solid lock; He continues to do this in every Mass (mystically represented: "Do this in memory of Me"), which we offer up to the Father as a sacrifice since it is Jesus' Prayer, and He actually gets inside us to save us (Jn. 6:56); and He saves us when we pray (Mt. 6:6) and do good works/charity: imitating Him extending Love.Now read and ponder: I Tim1:15.

2. Payback Time: St Anselm forged "the Satisfaction Theory"-very logical, believable: If mankind who sinned infinitively against God owes Him back, how can he, man, repay since he is so limited? Well: God "beat us to the punch" and, in Christ Jesus, the Incarnation- became man-took on our human nature-so as to satisfy God's Justice as man and,as He was God, he could do what finite man could not. Anyway, it's not a perfect theory, and can be mechanical, but it is helpful and has been around for a thousand years! God got upset (as any person does) and seeks reconciliation with mankind and knew we needed help: all the finite, legalistic sacrifice-holocausts of the Jews were "not working." So, Christ came in Divine Love and became the Infinite-ongoing


Sacrifice which re-orders the Universe (Eph. 1:10) and our restores our relationship with God. Christ took our place in the jailcell and became the Victim for our offenses:What is your response?

3.Extreme Makeover/Ecstatic Makeover: Jesus Christ came to sanate (heal) and elevate (divinize) our human nature-and recall us to "Original Justice"-to the way Adam and Eve were before the fall of their disobedience and sin. Jesus says: "He (the Lord) has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind" (Lk. 4:18). Christ changed the course and force of the steamroller of sin. Thus: our wills which wantonly/wrongly desire can be corrected; our minds can thnk aright; our memories can be freed, de-bondaged. One of Christ's Main Missions was to heal people. We should be esp. thankful that we are here in this Blessed Mountain where so many healings occur-people of sicknesses and diseases, or heart-aches and backaches-thru Love of God and Mary so many (not all) all restored and favored, their balance and equilibrium activated and Chrstified. He is the Divine physician of body and soul!

4. Know/See/Realize--He came to show us the Love and Face of the Father and Inner Life of God: to know and worship God--A Divine Trinity (Mt. 2819); and in some way to see God: "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (Jn. 14:9). Christ wants us to know the Glory of the Godhead-Trinity, and, even, share This Bliss with us: (Jn. 17: 21)-that we be in the Divine Trinity. And: Christ has given us the Glory the Father gave Him (17:22)-yes-read that again! And while we can never totally know God's inner life we do most importantly know: "God is Love" (I Jn. 4:8).

5. Reveal the Kingdom: He is the King and His Kingdom is all over the world, up in heaven and also within (Lk. 17:21) .Christ-Kingdom-Consciousness means It--the Kingdom-is always accessible 24/7. Are you praying and keeping mindful of His Divine Presence and His Kingship, and also letting Him reign in your heart and life?

6. He is the Fulfillment of the Jewish-Messiah. Christ is what the Jews were looking for and yet many did not accept Him. He is The New Moses (He gives the Sermon on the Mount-Mt. 5:1ff); He walked on water and He came to Fulfill the Law and Prophets-as so many Jews hoped for. So He teaches us moral and intellectual Truths for life and living (the Law) and how to help and urge others back to God (Prophets) and, He was also King-but not the exact way many Jews expected. So, now, just think: God keeps His Promises!

7. He Came to Give us Hope: St Paul says to his friends--"It (the revelation of God) is Christ in you, the hope for glory" (Col. 1:27). This means: we all have struggles and challenges in life and they sometime seem insurmountable. But: if we place our trust in Christ (within us as a kinda spiritual fuel) He will empower us to finish this Life-Race. He Who suffered so much as God-man can help us. St Paul later says: "May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace" (Rm. 15:13): translation-God is our Ultimate Answer and Goal and Fuel and Pull thru this world! The great English poet William Wordsworth pointed out we are often stronger than we think: "And if, as toward the silent tomb we go,/ through love, through hope, and faith's transcendent dower,/ We feel that we are greater than we know"

8. Reveal True Love: Some love lustily; others egoistically; still others skin-deep. The Lord shows us deeper, sacrificial love--even until it hurts, as Mother Teresa said. Most of the time we're afraid of That Kind of Love, but He actually showed us this Love-in-action: "The way we came to know love was this- He laid down his life for us" (I Jn. 3:16).

9. Make No mistake about it: God sent prophets, the holy scriptures, angelic revelations, floods and talking beasts and so forth but, this time He didn't want anyone (at anytime) to Miss the Point-the God-Man. You either believe Him or not. St John the Baptist proclaims: "Behold the lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world" (Jn. 1:29) Yes: behold Him (esp in your soul: within). And think-ponder: "For God so loved the world He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have Eternal Life" (Jn. 3:16).

10. "Can't we all get along" is what, you may remember; Rodney King said who was beaten up in Los Angeles riots yrs ago. Christ came to show us that, yes, we can get along. Think of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10: 29ff); the washing of the Disciples' feet (Jn. 13:1ff); of feeding an outcast woman (Jn. 4:14); of loving

sinners (Jn. 8:1ff)-doing all this heroically--let's do the same! Divinize us: God wants to tinge us with His Life. Actually: We are called to participate in the Divine nature of God (II Pt. 1:4). God did not merely tell us this but shows us what a Theandric Person is like (theo-andros=God-man). Saints Athanasisus, Augustine

and Thomas Aquinas and so many others said-"God became man that man might become God". Wow…So: get ready for Him-Preparation for the Celebration, to be born into our world by having Him come in your heart!

****************Briefly Noted****************

"Escape" is the title of an excellent, thrilling book (and reality) by Carolyn Jessop, who was born and married into a radical Mormon fundamentalist sect promoting polygamy. She was married to a elderly man who fathered over sixty

children by multiple wives. Warren Jeffs, recently arrested and found guilty for complicity of rape charges, was the leader of the group and interacted with Ms. Jessop. Regularly ladies were abused-physically and mentally, along with children, while a fear factor dominated so many. Ms. Jessop eventually fled, and persevered in gaining custody of her eight natural children. Her story shows: the abuse of many women today; the dementing of religious leadership and false Bible interpretations; and how frequently false messiahs and prophets proclaim their own way. The Baptist says: we are to decrease while He, the Lord, is to increase (Jn. 3:30).

"Islam's Silent Moderates" is an excellent New York Times piece (Dec. 7) by Ayaan Hirsi Ali who fled persecution when she spoke out against Islamic injustices (she is the author of the book "Infidel"). She described how a lady, age 20 in Saudi Arabia, is found guilty of simply traveling with men not her husband or blood relative, and who was herself was later raped and now is accused of wrongdoing. She is sentenced to jail and will be lashed 200 times with a bamboo cane. Ali asked where moderate Muslims and others were to defend her. She also mentioned the lady in Sudan sentenced to 15 days in jail for allowing a class to name a doll Muhammad (the teacher later fled to England). Ali critiques the "contemporary view" of some who say that Islam has been hijacked by radicals, and then she asks: "Where are the moderates?" She suggests these cases are not just from "radical Islamicists" but from others, too. Today we cannot ignore these problems and we need prophetic voices in Islam to defend women, human rights and decency. Catholics and Christians-thru Miriam/Blessed Virgin Mary, whom Muslims revere-can help seek peace, justice and reconciliation in this difficult issue and world by the Truth in love.

Baseball Scandal: How sad that, in "America's pastime"-baseball, over eighty major league baseball players were named last week who illegally used steroids and growth enhancement drugs to hit more homeruns, get bigger salaries and fame. This is not uncommon today in biking, basketball, football and professional sports. Many of us perhaps placed a lotta trust in sports heroes ("The Babe" and Unitas, etc.) even in outlandish ways. However: w/sports developing this way, w/drugs, money and fame as "driving forces"-where are we going? We need reform today. St Sebastian-- pray for us!

Advent III Sunday Bible Rdgs: Is 35:1-10; Jas 5:7-10; Mt 11:2-11. .. The Gospel: The Fulfillment of prophecies is one of the meanings of the readings this Sunday. St John the Baptist is the messenger/preparer of our Lord, so don't mistake the sign (John) for the reality (Jesus). We all desire (in wornful ways) a lot of things/teachers/persons and can often get overly attached. So: get lovingly de-tached! And realize what Jesus says: "Least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he". Yes, after Christ came and fully manifested His Kingdom we are even more blessed than the Baptist himself who did not live to see/experience Christ's full salvation!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi