One Solitary Life
Dear Brothers, Associates, Collaborators & Friends:
Christmas is a special time. Christmas fills the senses: the bright glow of colored lights, the crisp peal of bells and melodious joy of carols, the scent of pine, the fragrance of cinnamon and other spices emanating from freshly baked breads and cookies. Each year I go to Rockefeller Plaza to see the big tree, the ice-skaters and magnificent decorations. I always sense the goodwill of the many people who fill the Plaza doing what I am doing. For some reason people seem friendlier and perhaps even kinder at Christmas. We seem more aware of each other. Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is my next stop. The quiet invites visitors to contemplate the beautiful nativity scene. The rituals we create during these days of Christmas point to one solitary life.
He was born in an obscure village,
The Child of a peasant woman…
He grew up in another obscure village
where he worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty.
Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher…
He never traveled two hundred miles from where He was born.
He never wrote a book, or held an office.
He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness
This one solitary life received no awards, no medals, no prizes…
Reflecting on the Infant Jesus, I encounter the innocence and vulnerability of Jesus and the joy of Mary and Joseph. Jesus is the gift of God’s love for us. My thoughts return to one Christmas I spent in Bolivia. It was a cold, clear night in Sorata high in the Andes. Mass began precisely at midnight. I encountered the simple faith of poor people. At the Offertory there was a moving procession. A child from each family presented a small statue of the Infant Jesus to the priest for his blessing. It was very touching to see the excitement and pride of these children. After Mass they would take el Niño Jesus home and put him in a small crib. Whenever I pray at the crèche, I also remember a Christmas card I received with the image of the Infant Jesus in the stable. The play of light on the Child’s face projects to the beams of the stable. The beams form an ominous wooden cross. I am reminded of God’s unconditional love for us made flesh in this one solitary life.
The tide of public opinion turned against Him.
His friends deserted Him. He was turned over to His enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial…
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While He was dying, His executioners gambled for His cloak.
He died and was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave.
As we take time this Christmas to ponder the innocence and vulnerability of the Infant Jesus, we will encounter mystery –the mystery of God’s love made flesh for each of us personally. The question, then, becomes, “Am I willing to be vulnerable to God’s love and to let God bring about something new in me?” “Am I willing to heed the exhortation of our Fundamental Principles when it says, “Brother, it is through you that God desires to manifest His love to the peoples of the world in these times and to offer them the freedom of the children of God.” “Do I really believe that God wants me to help bring about His reign?” “All I have is one solitary life,” you may say.
Two thousand years have come and gone, and today
He is still the central figure for much of the human race.
All the armies that ever marched and all the navies that ever sailed
And all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together,
Have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this
One Solitary Life
– Adapted from James Allan Francis
We know that Jesus never clung to power, prestige, or the perquisites that accompany social position. He lived a life of simplicity, humility, trust, abandonment to God’s will and zeal for God’s reign. As we also contemplate the full mystery of Jesus’ life, His cross and His resurrection, we begin to understand what Mary meant when she said to the Angel Gabriel, “Let what you have said be done to me!” Our Fundamental Principles ask us a key question. “Are we willing to let God to become more present in our lives and through us to the world?” “How do we do that?”
To do this you must be willing to spend time
Each day in solitude and prayer opening yourself to God’s living Word….
Be patient, therefore, with yourself and with God.
Receive my fraternal wishes that you experience the intimate love that God offers you each day in the gift of His Son, the gift of the brotherhood we share with each other, the gift of families and friends. My prayer is that the gift you have received give as a gift. Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas.
Brother Edward Driscoll, C.F.X.