Dec 20, 2011

Bishop Conley: the Star that Guides the Way

Bishop Conley wrote another stellar reflection, and I do mean stellar! As we approach Christmas it is a good practice to star gaze. Yes we have stars on our Christmas trees and all over our houses. But there is nothing like looking up at the heavens on a chilled evening. And to think, these stars that gaze down up on us also gazed down upon the Word made flesh, the God-Man, Jesus Christ. They are a reminder of God's watching over us, His power and His love. The heavens are telling the glory of God. (Psalm 19:1) The question is are we listening to the heavens?

Christ Jesus, our King, was announced to all
creation by a star rising in the eastern sky.

The Magi saw it—they had been waiting and watching.
Finally they saw the announcement that God was with us—Emmanuel—incarnate in
the person of Jesus Christ.

I sometimes wonder why the Magi were watching the
sky in the first place. What were they watching for? I would like to believe
that the Magi watched the sky for the same reason I do—to stand in awe at the
splendor and majesty of our God.

The sky in Colorado is broad and clear. Even in the
heart of Denver, where I live, I can glance out the window at an incredible
expanse of sky and mountains and stars. Recently I was awestruck with the
beauty of the full moon over Denver. In our archdiocese, the splendor of God’s
creativity, love and goodness is everywhere for us to behold.

“To look up at the stars,” said the ancient
philosophers, “is to become lovers of wisdom.”

We seem to spend time during Christmas “beholding
the stars.” We’re more aware of God’s love for his people. We rejoice together
at the Incarnation. For children especially, but for all of us really,
Christmas is a time of wonder, of awe and of joyful curiosity.

We ought to cultivate a sense of wonder all the
time, not just this time of the year. In our families, we should seek a sense
of awe about the universe.  By reading
Scripture together, by praying together and by taking time to look up at the
stars, God will transform us into lovers of wisdom. And as we become truly
wise, like the Magi, we shall see more clearly the work of God in the world
around us.

It is easy to disregard the miraculous. We’re often
too busy to recognize miracles. When we do encounter miracles, our
hyper-rationality encourages us to find some other explanation for God’s work
in our lives. We lose sight of the miracle of our family’s love. We forget the
ways we have been transformed by God’s grace throughout our lives. We take for
granted the miracle of the Eucharist—that Christ becomes present to us in the
form of bread and wine.

At Christmas, we seem to suspend our
hyper-rationality for a while. There is a collective hope that the miraculous
will somehow break through. We talk about “Christmas miracles” for a
reason—Christmas is a miracle, and perhaps by grace, we’re more disposed at
Christmas to see the presence of God.

This Christmas let’s commit to live our lives with a
greater sense of wonder. After the Nativity set and the tree and the lights
have all gone away—hopefully not until the solemnity of Epiphany, the 12th day
of Christmas—let’s keep looking for the Christ Child. Let’s keep looking to the
stars. Let’s be in awe at the miracle of God’s great love for us.

I pray the Lord will bless your families this
Christmas.  I will remember each of you
in my prayers and in the Mass on Christmas Day. I pray you will encounter Jesus
Christ, and come to know his love.  I
leave you with my blessing and with a Christmas poem, “Moonless darkness stands
between,” by Father Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.:

Darkness stands between.

Past, the Past, no more be seen!

But the Bethlehem-star may lead me

To the sight of Him Who freed me

From the self that I have been.

Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;

Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;

Now beginning, and alway:

Now begin, on Christmas day.