Preacher’s Sketchbook: The Nativity of the Lord
December 19, 2011
Each week, a Dominican member of the Provincial Preaching Advisory board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.
Pope Benedict XVI
Christmas says to us, amid all our doubts and bewilderment: God exists. Not as an infinitely distant power that can at best terrify us; not as being’s ultimate ground that is not conscious of itself. Rather he exists as One who can be concerned about us; he is such that everything we are and do lies open to his gaze. But that gaze is the gaze of Love. For anyone who accepts this in faith and knows it by faith, there is no longer any ultimate isolation. He is here. The light that one man became in history and for history is not an accident or something powerless, but Light from Light. The hope and encouragement that emanate from this light thus acquire a wholly new depth. But precisely because it is an entirely divine hope, we can and should accept it as also an entirely human hope and pass it on to others.
Pope Benedict XVI
The infinite distance between God and man is overcome. God has not only bent down…; he has truly “come down”,…he has become one of us, in order to draw all of us to himself…. This child has ignited the light of goodness in men and has given them strength to overcome the tyranny of might. This child builds his kingdom in every generation from within, from the heart… We are grateful that God gives himself into our hands as a child, begging as it were for our love…. The appearing of beauty, of the beautiful, makes us happy without our having to ask what use it can serve. God’s glory, from which all beauty derives, causes us to break out in astonishment and joy. Anyone who catches a glimpse of God experiences joy…. God does not allow himself to be confounded by our sin. Again and again he begins afresh with us. But he is still waiting for us to join him in love. He loves us, so that we too may become people who love, so that there may be peace on earth.
Pope Benedict XVI
Knowledge of God is possible only through the gift of God’s love becoming visible…. The truth is that what is invisible is greater and much more valuable than anything visible. One single soul, in Pascal’s beautiful words, is worth more than the entire visible universe. But in order to have a living awareness of this, we need conversion, we need to turn around inside, as it were, to overcome the illusion of what is visible, and to develop the feeling, the ears and the eyes, for what is invisible.
Jesus comes as a little one lest we be terrified.
Bl. Guerric of Igny
Jesus much prefers to be loved than to be feared with servility. And so now when he shows himself to mortal men for the first time, he prefers to present himself as a child, in order to inspire love rather than fear.
Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet
It is a surprising but indisputable truth that, amongst the infinite means that God possesses for establishing his glory, the most efficacious of all is necessarily joined to lowliness. He can never show his greatness so plainly as when he stoops to humble himself. He chose to carry his greatness to its very highest pitch, and for this he stooped; he chose to exhibit his glory in its most brilliant light, and for this he put on our weakness. His glory then showed greatest when it corresponded to the depth of his abasement. What he cannot find in himself he seeks in a nature that is foreign to him. He was made man in order that his Father might behold in his person a God subject to obedience.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 456-459
With the Nicene Creed, we answer by confessing: ‘For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.’ The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God…. The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God’s love…. The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness…. The Word became flesh to make us ‘partakers of the divine nature’.
Msgr. Luigi Giussani
The human being cannot live five minutes without affirming in some way some ultimate ‘something’ that makes those five minutes worth living…. We suffocate in reality because the human being, without the awareness of the whole, of the Mystery, will always feel imprisoned or bored…. Without just a glimpse of the ultimate perspective, things become monstrous…. Only the relationship with the ‘beyond’ makes the adventure of life possible. The will to penetrate the beyond gives man the energy to seize the here and now…. To be human is to be driven by the need to find ultimate, total meaning inherent in every aspect of life…, what makes life worthwhile, gives it consistency, endurance…. The object the human being strives towards cannot be reduced to any achievement or point that he can reach…. Man’s need for the Mystery to reply to the ultimate human question is experienced as a manifestation of the Mystery itself.
Msgr. Romano Guardini
It is the melancholic man who has the most profound relationship with the fullness of existence. The infinite testifies to itself, in the depth of the heart. Melancholy is the expression of the fact that we are limited creatures, but live next door to the ‘absolute’, next door to God. We are called by God, chosen to welcome him into our existence. Melancholy is the price of the birth of the eternal in man. Melancholy is the disquiet of man who is aware of the nearness of the Infinite.