“Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of a great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a savior who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
One of the things we learn when reading Luke’s Gospel is that God is not very good at keeping a secret.
God is not very good at keeping a secret.
Or maybe it’s just the angels. Or maybe just the way Luke tells the story. But it’s all right there, right here, in the beginning, isn’t it? It’s all right here.
Not only on this holy (if not so silent) night, but also in the months before: The annunciation to Zechariah, John’s father, and then Gabriel – the annunciation to Mary, and then Mary visiting Elizabeth, John the Baptist leaping in anticipation in his mother’s womb and Mary singing the Magnificat, and then Zechariah’s own prophecy at the birth of his son.
The Messiah is coming, and he will bring salvation and redemption to Israel, peace, hope and comfort, and above all “A great joy for all people”.
Now I don’t know how you like your stories, but to me, when I read a good novel, or watch a good movie, I don’t want to know the end before it has even started. I want to take time to get acquainted to the main characters, try to figure out their motives, following their many adventures and become enthralled by their destinies.
Not so with God though, not so with the angels, not so with Luke’s Gospel and with the story of the Savior.
It’s all right there, right here, in the beginning.
On that holy and (if not so silent) night, and even a few months before that, the heavens burst open upon the theater of this bleak and ordinary world of keeping the sheep at night, walking miles in the dark or riding on a donkey, crowds and noise, cramps and pangs, looking for something to eat, looking for a place to sleep – in the midst of all this, the heavens crack open to announce a great joy to all the people of Israel, and beyond, as we know it in the Christian world.
God can’t keep a secret.
But we have to indulge God because God can’t wait to tell us. God can’t wait to tell us.
This is how it goes isn’t it, when you love people and when you have very good news? It’s not that hard to keep a secret from somebody you don’t like, or when you’re ashamed of something you did. It’s much harder to keep from those you love something very exciting and something very life changing.
In this holy (if not so silent) night, the heavens burst open with overflowing joy. Joy coming from heavens. Not from this bleak, ordinary world, but from the story that God wants to write for and with God’s people. The marvel and the gift of Jesus coming to share our destiny.
Things will never be the same indeed.
And this how it goes with God, because indeed, from the beginning, heavens overflow with joy, and desire and love and this in this outpouring of love that men and women were created and this is in this outpouring of love that men and women will also be redeemed.
God is pregnant with a new reality God wants to bring with completion.
I don’t know how you have been feeling in the past months, before this holy (if not so silent) night but not that great is probably a good guess, isn’t it? I know this is probably how I would describe my own state of mind as well. But you see, when I open the Gospel, and God announces a great joy for all God’s people and I see the heavens shaken upside down with shouts of celebration, I understand that joy is not something I have to give to myself, or something I need to give to the world, or something I have to seek to the ends of the earth
– Joy is something that God brings to God’s people and joy is to be found, then and always, in Jesus.
God wants to bring heavens on earth, and God is waiting for people like Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, peasants, astrologists, fishermen and tax collectors, and even robbers and sex workers to open their hearts to this new reality.
God is pregnant with a new reality God wants to bring to completion in the midst of us – and things will never be the same again anymore.
Oh, it won’t start big. A small child, and infant, who will just happen to grow to become the king of kings and the Lord of all. And we are invited to follow where he leads.
No, it won’t start big. Things won’t change right away, but slowly, and surely, a new reality is coming. In the same way that, after the winter solstice days grow longer again – a few extra minutes of sun every day, we reverse the calendar and look forward to the hope brought by spring and the glory of the summer days.
Jesus came to reverse time from birth to death to another time: from the death brought by our blindness and selfishness to eternal life in him.
It won’t start big but it will start with each one of you and I hope you can start feeling this promise of a new life growing inside of you, because God can’t wait for you to discover it.
In the darkest night, God shone God’s brightest star to tell you.
Maybe in the past days you went out to see the Great conjunction. I did. I don’t know if it’s a sign, but I had to see it as I always go out to see rainbows as well. Not sure God does it on purpose each time, who can tell? But I know that when I see the heavens bursting with colors and lights, I am reminded of God’s promise, God’s promise to Noah, God’s promise in Jesus. And so indeed, even in the bleakness of year 2020, we can be reminded of God’s covenant as we open our ears to the Gospel and as we raise our eyes to the sky.
One of the things the most comforting I’ve ever read was this simple sentence in the Encyclical “Laudato Si” by pope Francis – an Encyclical about the urgency of climate action. The Pope said, in the midst of it all, poverty, hunger, disease, wars against ourselves, one another and the environment, God has not abandoned us.
God has not abandoned us. God hasn’t abandoned us today as surely as God hasn’t abandoned God’s people two thousands years ago even after the prophets went very silent for four hundreds years and the Romans took over the holy city.
It is a tough time for us as well, but as 2020 comes to an end and as we celebrate Christmas again, we have the choice to let the Scriptures remind us that God does not give up on God’s people, God remembers God’s covenant. God had promised a Savior to Israel and God sent Jesus and Jesus is till with us as surely as Jesus was with God’s people on the first Christmas.
God has not given up on you and God is not done with us. So don’t give up either. Don’t give up on yourself, don’t give up on this world and don’t give up on God. As difficult as it may seem to believe, today like yesterday God promises us that the best is yet to come in God’s reality.
And if we make silence in the dark of the night, if we raise our eyes to the stars, we may hear how God can’t wait to tell us all about it.