WHAT DOES IT AVAIL ME . . ?
The weekly sheet of St Dominic's Priory Church in Hampstead focussed, yesterday on 'Bearing the Word'; and in view of my recent reading of Fr Saward's book, I was interested to read what fr Gregory Murphy OP had to say.
He quoted S. Ambrose 'According to the flesh one woman is the mother of Christ, but according to faith, Christ is the fruit of all men', but went on to point the moral more precisely in S. Augustine's words : 'What does it avail me that this birth is always happening, if it does not happen in me ? That it should happen in me is what matters.'
That said something very definite to me, especially after my musings last week about the disappearing Christ of Christmas.
I do believe that we should struggle, in our own quiet way, against the commercialization of Christmas, and its taking over by secular interests : but isn't it also essential for us to remind ourselves that a 'religious Christmas' without the active presence of Christ is, in its own way, just as sterile as one based on shopping and over-eating ?
I'm thinking increasily of what I might be able to do, this Christmas, to show the Word to the world - something which, as fr Gregory points out, we are all called to do by our baptism. My options may be limited - although Oxfam and other international charities have lots of good ideas for wonderful gifts you can give to people who need them - clean drinking water, sanitation, trees : but for various reasons, not all of us can do that.
'What can I give Him, poor as I am ?
If I were a shepherd, I could give a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I could do my part;
But what can I give Him : give my heart.'
We may not be able to do very much for the poor, the underprivileged, the lonely, this Christmas; but just as we always have a heart to give to God, there is one thing we can always, and easily, do for anyone in need - pray. As we kneel before our Lord, lying there little and weak in the manger of Bethlehem, let us try to remind ourselves that in reality we too are just like that; and that as we shall be forgiven in proportion to how we have forgiven, so - I strongly suspect - we shall be blessed with the blessings we have besought for others.
Let us pray, then, that the poor, the voiceless, of the world may recognize that they do have a voice : a voice that is heard at God's throne, even if it's not heard anywhere on earth; and let us remember that we should speak for them here, that they may speak for us there.