Painting called Mary and Child, by friend and artist, Trung Pham SJ

Painting called Mary and Child, by friend and artist, Trung Pham SJ

I don’t like Christmas carols.

Sorry! I never have. Or at least they do not move me as other music does.

However, this morning I found myself in tears as I sang Gloria in Excelsis Deo with the members of a packed church in Singapore.

Why? Probably many reasons, not least of which being the sense of a universal Church all believing the same: the man-God who split history in two whose life IS the ground we walk on. Forever.

But I also find myself thinking these days about the way as much as the fact of how God entered history. This morning’s readings held me at this point:

Let us go, then, to Bethlehem
to see this thing that has taken place,
which the Lord has made known to us.”
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.

Something had taken place. They go to find out. And what they see is a child. And a poor one, at that.

So what does poverty, weakness, vulnerability, defencelessness say to us, about humanity? Or even about God?

I think it says “I trust you”. When parents give you their children to mind, that’s what it means – the ultimate trust, I feel.

So God not only wants to save us, but also trusts us.

Those I have taught will remember my favourite interpretation of original sin (thank you, Sequeri!) is that of distrust. The first ‘sin’ of our race was not pride – pride’s a mechanism of defence – it was distrust: “What was God hiding? What did God not want us to know? What do we need to steal that we have not been given?” Any pride or deceit that follows is merely a consequence…

And so the way God saves us is not only taking the risk of sending his Son, but trusting us with that life. I think that’s why I hate it when we forget that Jesus came, not only to die for us, but also to show us how to live! He trusted that we would get it. And if God trusts us, then we are trustworthy. Despite everything. Or rather through everything (Rm 8:28-29). The last word over our lives is that we can hear and discern the voice of God. The ultimate rule of discernment and accompaniment, for those of us to whom God entrusts that path, is that people are trustworthy. And if they can get to hear their own voice, which is, at depth, not that different from God’s own, they will know what is right, and true, and holy. They will recognise. “My sheep know my voice”, because “All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.”

So on this day, I am grateful to all those who have trusted in me, and therefore been a presence of God’s voice for me – those who have accompanied me, and those who have wanted me to walk alongside their own quests.

My deepest prayer today is that we would learn to walk with care, that God’s silence in a child would “quieten the noise in our mind…” and allow us listen for the only truth that truly “discovers” and saves us. That’s what my one and only “Christmas Carol” tries to say – and I will do an Australian version anon – from North Star to Southern Cross, but for the mo’: Worship Unplugged, played and recorded with my ‘little’ brother in Dublin.