Christmas – share in the beauty of God
By Abbot John Pereira OSB
“Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received – yes, grace in return for grace …”
Because God became one of us, we can become one with God. The Church Father Athanasius (298–373) once said, “God became human so that the human can become God.” This is the message of Christmas.
Christmas reminds us of the potential within each one of us to mirror that image which is intrinsic to our humanity.
God is good, God is truth, but God is also beauty. Beauty is a name for God. St Augustine refers to God as Beauty in his book of Confessions. “Too late have I loved you, O Beauty, so ancient and so new, too late have I loved you!” (Book 10:27).
Our celebration of Christmas tells us that we are called to share in the beauty of God.
The second century Christian apologist, Aristides, used to say to the pagans: “Your religion is false, because your gods are so ugly!” And we have an expression in our own culture, “as ugly as sin”. We associate beauty with God, and ugliness with evil and sin.
Isaiah, in today’s reading, offers us four criteria to determine beauty, criteria that go beyond the surface. “How beautiful on the mountains, are the feet of one who brings good news, who heralds peace, brings happiness, proclaims salvation …” (Is 52:7).
Bringing good news is one way in which beauty is enhanced. A person who consistently speaks about good news and goodness and has a positive outlook on life eventually becomes a beautiful person.
The one who is always complaining and has no good news to offer about anything or anyone eventually becomes ugly.
Christmas has many implications. John tells us “…the Word was the true light that enlightens all men …” (Jn 1:9).
We all are destined to share in that light. We are to share in that light of beauty. The implications of Christmas are manifold. There are ecological implications, ecumenical implications, and economic implications.
We are to share the beauty of God in Creation (ecological).
We are to share the beauty of God in our common fatherhood (ecumenical). We are to share in the beauty of God in concern for each other (justice).
Heavenly Father, I love You! I want to share in Your beauty. Lord, give me the beauty that is deeper than the skin. Give me the beauty that comes from bringing good news, heralding peace, bringing happiness and from proclaiming salvation. Help me to see and to experience Your beauty all around us! Amen.
The gospel reflections for December were by Abbot John Pereira OSB of the Abbey of Our Lady of Exile, Mount St Benedict.