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HomeArchbishop AquilaFrom the Christmas stable, Jesus invites us to abide in him

From the Christmas stable, Jesus invites us to abide in him

Saint John Eudes once said that every Christian will go through the phases of Jesus’ life in their own life. This is how God calls us to abide in him, a journey that became possible for all humanity on Christmas, in the impoverished surroundings of a stable.

At the moment Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb, he embarked on his plan to rescue us through a relationship with him. When we choose to enter into that relationship through our baptism and subsequent choices, we begin the process of imitation that St. John Eudes described.

For most people, the way that we imitate and participate in the sufferings and indignities Jesus experienced probably comes to mind first, then the temptations to sin, and finally the joys of life that reflect the splendor of the Transfiguration and heaven itself.

Our tendency to first dwell on the difficult and painful is an indication that we know in our very being, in the depths of our souls, that we were made for more, we were made for eternal life, and we know that isn’t what our daily life looks like. This journey toward perfection and rescuing us from brokenness is Jesus’ mission in becoming a child and a man.

To quote St. John Eudes again, “He desires us to perfect the mystery of his incarnation and birth by forming himself in us and being reborn in our souls through the blessed sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. He fulfills his interior life in us, hidden with him in God” (Treatise on the Kingdom, Opera omnia 1, 310-312).

Jesus came to us in the humble surroundings of a stable as an infant. In the same way, he comes to us in the humble, simple outward appearance of bread. The Creator of the Universe teaches us with his example and invites us to humble ourselves and meet and love him in the Eucharist.

As we celebrate the undeserved but desperately needed gift of Jesus coming among us at Christmas, I encourage you to ask the Lord, “What aspect of your life are you leading me through now?” Is it his education and upbringing in the faith as a child, his confirmation as the beloved son of God at his baptism in the Jordan, his temptation in the wilderness, his formation of the disciples encouraging their growth in faith, his Transfiguration, his betrayal by Judas and most of his followers, his suffering and death, or his Resurrection? There are so many ways that Jesus can be at work refining us and conforming us to him.

What happened to St. Therese of Lisieux is a good example of how Jesus can purify us. When she was 13, St. Therese experienced what she called her “Christmas miracle.” As a child she was prone to stubbornness and over-the-top outbursts of emotion when she was offended. As she was going upstairs to change for opening presents, she overheard her father say that she should have outgrown the tradition by then. Normally she would have broken down sobbing at such a remark, but instead she said Jesus gave her the grace to master her emotions and return downstairs to joyfully open her gifts, which turned her father from irritated to joyful.

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Christmas is the time we experience the humility of Christ’s birth and the joyful witness of the shepherds, angels and wise men to God’s plan of love unfolding.

In the Eucharist, Jesus continues to make himself present among us as he first did in Bethlehem. This makes it the perfect time to be in the first stages of our Eucharistic Revival, which began in the Archdiocese of Denver on Nov. 20, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Jesus came to us in the humble surroundings of a stable as an infant. In the same way, he comes to us in the humble, simple outward appearance of bread. The Creator of the Universe teaches us with his example and invites us to humble ourselves and meet and love him in the Eucharist.

This Christmas, I invite you to accept the infant Jesus’ outstretched hand calling you to come to him, accept his call to repentance and be transformed by the Eucharist.  Go visit Jesus in Holy Communion and speak with him in the tabernacle of your heart.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila
The Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila is the eighth bishop of Denver and its fifth archbishop. His episcopal motto is, "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5).
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