The Son of God paid us a visit for a period of approximately thirty-three years at and about the city of Jerusalem in a region of our planet we call the Middle East more than two thousand years ago.
At Bethlehem, the Son of God entered the world. At Calvary, the Son of God exited it.
The good news of great joy is based on the thirty-three year Visit.
Thirty-three years is an infinitesimally thin slice of time in comparison to the thickness of eternity. Yet, the story that unfolded on this thin slice still reverberates from then and there to us here and now. It has persisted for more than two thousand years and has propagated itself with the help of the Holy Spirit for many thousands of miles. Its persistence and propagation are a miracle in and of themselves.
How many children of Adam and Eve have been crucified? Of them, do you ever wonder why you can put a name to only one? Do you not find this remarkable?
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, ..." (John 1:14). At Bethlehem, the word of God took flesh. He was the message and the messenger.
The message was so important that God personally involved themselves in 1) its delivery and 2) the guarantee of its genuineness. They did not delegate the job to a subordinate. They did it themselves.
What was the message? The message was that God loves us dearly. The word of God delivered to us at Bethlehem was a love note. It was a unique love note. It lived and breathed. The love note was another gift that God has given to the children of Adam and Eve. The love note was given to us even though we did not deserve it. It was gratuitous. "I love you" God said to you and me.
What else do you require? What more do you need? In your hands is the love note from God themselves. Isn't a love note from God to you enough?
But we have doubts. How do we know that the love note is genuine? Suppose it is counterfeit? How can we be sure?
God understood that we might not take them at their word - that we might demand from God more than God's word. So God gave us more - much more - than we deserved. In the off chance that we might require more, God delivered to us a gift as valuable as the love note. God delivered to us a guarantee that the word of God is genuine. He let us open bloody wounds in His body and then let us put our fingers in them to convince ourselves that His bloody wound were real.
It was not an easy guarantee. It was no walk in the park for the Son of God. The guarantee that the love note is genuine came at an exorbitant cost to Him. It was not free. The guarantee would only work if He and He alone paid the cost. No passion; no proof. Therefore, He did not pass the hat amongst us to help Him defray the cost. The Son of God paid the entire cost out of His own pocket. Furthermore, the currency He used to pay the cost of the guarantee was the coin of suffering. He paid the cost not from His limitless divine resources. He paid the cost from His limited human resources. He paid it all for us. He kept not a penny for Himself. He has never paid more for anything else.
Suffering is the only universal language that survived the confounding of languages that took place at Babel. It is our native tongue. Because it is our native tongue, we understand it - fully. Nobody dives headfirst or, for that matter, even dips his toe into the boiling cauldron of suffering unless they are insane or something important outweighs the exorbitant cost of suffering. All creatures who suffer understand this. Suffering is a price we only willingly pay for something that is extremely dear to us. Jesus paid the price because we are extremely dear to Him.
The Son of God gave us the guarantee that the love note is genuine at Calvary. If the love note were counterfeit, His love for us would have faded as we tortured Him and died when we killed Him. But it did not. It survived. Its survival is the guarantee that the love note is genuine.
The dial that regulates His love for us is in His hands not ours; it is set to the highest degree and it is locked in place.
Buckets of blood spilled through the wounds we opened in His body with lash, thorns, nails and spear. On the cataract of blood that spilled through the wounds, His life exited His body. Yet, not a drop - not a drop - of His love for us spilled. His heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us. Despite the wickedness we inflicted on Him, He continued to love us nonetheless.
We impaled the live bait on the sharp hook of salvation. We impaled Him on the Cross with the same insouciance with which a fisherman impales a live worm on a sharp hook. The most Holy Trinity then took the live bait impaled on the sharp hook and cast the rig into the cesspools of sin to fish for the children of Adam and Eve.
Have you yet taken the bait? Have you yet taken the bait hook, line and sinker?
Preach the love note that God delivered to us at Bethlehem. Preach the guarantee of its genuineness that God delivered to us at Calvary. For the time being, stop making the official code of conduct of the Church the topic of the Catholic conversation. Preach the new exodus that is making its escape through the hostile desert of godlessness from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and their holy family in the promised land. Like foolish children, Adam and Eve ran away from their home with God in paradise and took us with them into godlessness. They were duped into living as gods in godlessness rather than with God in paradise. However, reality quickly shattered this illusion. Godlessness sucks. To rescue us from godlessness, God established an escape route, defined it with holy places, made a map of them and entrusted the map to the Church. God gave the Church the job of leading the escape as the new Moses. Preach the escape. Preach the escape route. Preach the holy places that define the escape route. Preach the new exodus. There is so much to preach about that the children of Adam and Eve no longer understand. Therefore, for the time being, stop preaching the official code of conduct of the Church. There are more important aspects of Christianity that need to become the topic of Catholic conversation than the official code of conduct of the Church. Hopefully, you can see from the content of this post what the more important aspects of Christianity are. Temporarily, stop your shrill hectoring. Your shrill hectoring is more annoying than the plagues visited upon the Egyptians. Let us try something new. Let us get the feet of the children of Adam and Eve moving from holy place to holy place seeking close encounters with the living God. Get the feet moving from holy place to holy place and, I assure you, the head will follow as the night follows the day (Thanks Bill). Let us set the ball up for God and let God do the work of conversion at the holy places. Setting up the ball is our job. God and God alone takes the swing.
Why? Why did God hold the opinion that it was necessary to personally deliver to us both a love note and a guarantee that the love note was genuine? Love. Indestructible love for us. There is no other explanation.
What else do you require? What more do you need? In your hands is not just the love note from God. In your hands is also the guarantee of its genuineness.