Wednesday December 21st: Jesus always propels us into action
December 21, 2022
The Solemnity of the Nativity (A)
December 21, 2022

It’s Christmas – a profound dialogue with God

Q: Archbishop J, what does the Christmas story teach us about dialogue?

Happy Christmas, everyone! We have made a wonderful journey towards this day of the birth of Christ. It is the beginning of a new phase in the relationship between God and us, human beings. As the Scripture says: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’” (Mt 1:23).

Significantly, the Christmas story opens a new chapter in the dialogue between God and us. Before the first Christmas, we received God from outside of the human condition. With Christmas, God becomes human and thus all of humanity is opened to the Godhead in a new way. This constitutes a new relationship and a new foundation for the dialogue.


Christmas and Communications

The pastoral instruction Aetatis Novae, ‘Dawn of a New Era’ contains a reflection on the implication of the Christmas event. It begins with the recognition that Jesus is the Word made flesh and the image of the invisible God, and adds: “In and through him (Jesus), God’s own life is communicated to humanity by the Spirit’s action” (6).

Here we see the Trinity as the foundation for all communications: God communicates through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. We do not often see the world from the perspective of the Trinity. But, in reality, communication has its foundation in the Trinity; the Father gives everything to Son and Spirit, the Son gives everything to Father and Spirit, the Spirit gives everything to Son and Father.

To hold that the origin of communications is in the Godhead itself—in the Trinity—is a very profound thought.

True communication is patterned after the communications of the Godhead. In the earlier pastoral instruction, Communio et Progressio, ‘Communion and Progress’, the Church speaks of communication as, “more than the expression of ideas and the indication of emotion”. It is “the giving of self in love” (11). Profound self-communication is the inner heart of the Trinity.

Communications, then, is at the service of communion. This becomes the measure by which all other forms of discourse must be evaluated. We must ask, “Does our communication build love and communion, or does it bring fear and division?” Authentic dialogue always brings love and communion. This is the heart of the Christmas mystery.

God gave Himself fully and completely to us. Emmanuel—God is with us.

‘Dawn of a New Era’ reflects further on this theme: “Here, in the Word made flesh, God’s self-communication is definitive. In Jesus’ words and deeds the Word is liberating, redemptive, for all humankind. This loving self-revelation of God, combined with humanity’s response of faith, constitutes a profound dialogue” (6).

This awareness takes communications and dialogue up many levels. Dialogue is not just a human activity; it is a deeply spiritual activity, with the high purpose of bringing people together—in communion.

If done correctly, it is always a giving of self in love for the other. Christmas models dialogue for us. God’s gift of His Son is the full communication of His love to us, human beings.

Says St John: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).


The profound dialogue

The ‘New Era’ text states that “the loving self-revelation of God” combined with “humanity’s response of faith”, makes for a profound dialogue. God’s self-gift to us and our response of faith are, therefore, the materials for dialogue.

It is important, here, to see that the initiative is God’s; God first gives freely of Himself to us in love. This modelling by God opens for us a way to respond through faith.

The whole of the spiritual life can be seen as a God-human dialogue. God gives Himself in love and we respond through faith. As our response through faith deepens, the dialogue is opened to new depth and possibilities. This is the true gift of Christmas.

God opens for us a way to communion through the generous gift of His Son. We enter the dialogue when we respond to His love with generosity and gratitude. This is every Christian’s call.

This profound dialogue moves appreciably when we understand the desire of God for us. God calls us to friendship and intimacy.

Jesus says: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (Jn 15:15).

The profound dialogue is a gateway towards mystical union and the indwelling of the Trinity. Again, Jesus says: “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (Jn 14:23).

The God who created the heavens and the earth and all there is within comes to us and desires to make His home in us. The ultimate end of dialogue is communion with God. The outflow of union with God is communion with others. This is the invitation of Christmas.

The evangelist opens his Gospel with the words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” … “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1: 1, 14).

In this dialogue, we need to hear with all our being, just how much God loves us. When we hear God—really hear Him—we will hear this great offer of God communicated to us through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.

And we are invited to give the gift of our life to God. In this giving and receiving love we give ourselves and we enter the profound dialogue.


Key Message:

The relationship between the Word made flesh and our faith is a profound dialogue.

Action Step:

Recollect your relationship with God over these days. Are you consciously giving yourself in love to God and to those around you?

Scripture Reading:

John 1: 1, 14