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Editor's Choice » International

The message of Advent is sometimes lost in sentimentality

The incarnation is about 'surrender, encounter, mutuality', and the profound mystery of God made flesh

The message of Advent is sometimes lost in sentimentality
Fr Richard Rohr International

December 7, 2012

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Some years ago I gave a conference on "Preparing for Christmas" that St. Anthony Messenger Press (now Franciscan Media) was kind enough to publish in recorded form. It has continued to sell well for many years, and so they asked me if I would work with them to publish a print version. "Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent" is the result.

In the original lectures I tried to invite people beyond a merely sentimental understanding of Christmas as "waiting for the baby Jesus" to an adult and social appreciation of the message of the Incarnation of God in Christ. We Franciscans have always believed that the Incarnation was already the Redemption, because in Jesus' birth God was already saying that it was good to be human, and God was on our side.

At the original conference, I felt that the need on this earth for adult Christianity and the actual message of Jesus was so urgent that we could not allow this great feast of Christmas, and its preparation in Advent, to be watered down in any way. Twenty years later, I feel this is even more true. Jesus identified his own message with what he called the coming of the "reign of God" or the "kingdom of God," whereas we had often settled for the sweet coming of a baby who asked little of us in terms of surrender, encounter, mutuality, or any studying of the Scriptures or the actual teaching of Jesus. Sentimentality, defined as trumped-up emotions, can be an avoiding of and substitute for an actual relationship, as we see in our human relationships, too.

We Catholics must admit that there is a constant temptation among us to avoid the lectionary and the Word of God for private and pious devotions that usually have little power to actually change us or call our ego assumptions into question. The Word of God, however, confronts, converts and consoles us -- in that order. The suffering, injustice and devastation on this planet are too great now to settle for any infantile Jesus. Actually, that has always been true.

Full story: Preparing for Christmas

Source: Huffington Post

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