The Christmas Encounter

By Sr. Princess Mary Dawson, MHSH

 

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

 

The birth of Christ into the world was not one filled with the comforts one would expect.

The evening was cold and in some ways empty of joyous celebration – at least to the eyes of onlookers. The child came into the world with much love from his parents and with the air of mystery in their hearts.

 The infant Jesus’ birthing was bringing many gifts to the world. The gifts could not be wrapped, but instead would grow as Jesus would and be given to all who opened their hearts.

 Jesus is the loving gift of God to the world. The very son of God became small in the taking on of our flesh. Jesus in his humanity would feel our pain, grief, hunger and more. This child Jesus, born into the world, was given in love and was destined to teach us how to love.

All who would encounter Jesus would find they are loved completely without conditions and such loving would bring about transformation to many wounded hearts.

Jesus Christ, the infant born to us this day with a heart full of God’s love for each person, is the Christmas Encounter fully alive. There is no greater gift.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 8

2015_WPCU_Poster_inner_240x349Day 8, Many believed because of the woman’s testimony

SCRIPTURE: Exodus 3:13-15, Moses at the Burning Bush

  • Psalm 30, The Lord restores us to life
  • Romans 10:14-17, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news
  • John 4:27-30.39-40, Many believed because of the woman’s testimony.

 

MEDITATION:

With her heart transformed, the Samaritan woman goes out in mission. She announces  that she has found the Messiah. Many believed in Jesus because of her witness. The force of her witness stems from the transformation of her life caused by her encounter with Jesus. Thanks to her openness, she recognized in that stranger “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4.14)

Mission is a key element of Christian faith. Every Christian is called to announce the name of the Lord. Pope Francis told missionaries, “wherever you may go, it would do you well to think that the Spirit of God always gets there ahead of us.”  Mission is not proselytism. Those who truly announce Jesus approach others in loving dialogue, open to mutual learning, and respecting difference. Our mission requires us to learn to drink from the living water without taking hold of the well. The well does not belong to us. Rather, we draw life from the well of living water which is given by Christ

Our mission must be a work both of word and witness. We seek to live out what we proclaim. The late Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara once said that “many have become atheists because they have become disillusioned by people of faith who do not practice what they preach.” The witness of the woman led her community to believe in Jesus because her brothers and sisters saw coherence between her words and her own transformation. If our word and witness is authentic, the world will hear and believe. “How are they to believe if they have not heard?” (Rom 10: 15).

PRAYER:

God, Spring of Living Water, make of us witnesses of unity through both our words and our lives. Help us to understand that we are not the owners of the well, and give us the wisdom to welcome the same grace in one another. Transform our hearts and our lives so that we might be genuine bearers of the Good News. And lead us always to the encounter the other, as an encounter with you. We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Source: Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

 

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 4

2015_WPCU_Poster_inner_240x349Day 4, Then the woman left her water jar (John 4:28)

SCRIPTURE:

  • Genesis 11:31-12:4, God promises to make Abram a great nation and a blessing
  • Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd
  • Acts 10:9-20, What God has made clean, you must not call profane
  • John 4:25-28, Then the woman left her water ja

 

MEDITATION:

The encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman shows that dialogue with the different, the stranger, the unfamiliar, can be life-giving. That day, for some reason, the Samaritan woman did not follow the established rules. Both she and Jesus broke with conventional patterns of behavior. They showed us again that it is possible to build new relationships.

As Jesus completes the work of the Father, the Samaritan woman, for her part, leaves her water jar, meaning that she could go further in her life; she was not confined to the role society imposed on her. When she leaves behind her water jar she signals that she has found a greater gift, a greater good than the water she came for, and a better place to be within her community. She recognizes the greater gift that this Jewish stranger, Jesus, is offering her. It is difficult for us to find value, to recognize as good, or even holy, that which is unknown to us and that which belongs to another. However, recognizing the gifts that belong to the other as good and as holy is a necessary step towards the visible unity we seek.

PRAYER:
Loving God,
Help us to learn from Jesus and the Samaritan that the encounter with the other opens for us new horizons of grace. Help us to break through our limits and embrace new challenges. Help us to go beyond fear in following the call of your Son. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Source: Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute