By Fr. Jean-Michel Amouriaux, CJM
Father General of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary
In these days of joy and light, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, Savior of the world, and we let the sublime words of a contemporary of our founder Saint John Eudes, named Angelus Silesius (1624-1677), to resound, exhorting us to welcome the newborn child from the manger: "Would Christ have been born a thousand times in Bethlehem, if he had not been born in you, he would have been born in vain. God must be born in you. Christ would have been born a thousand times in Bethlehem, if he was not born in you, you remain dead forever. "Here is a powerful key to open the door to the mystery of faith: what we celebrate is realized in us. Celebrating the birth of Christ without letting him be born, grow, live and reign in us would be in vain.
When we celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, we celebrate within us the birth of "the New Man that has been created on God’s principles, in the uprightness and holiness of the truth. "(Eph 4:24) Of course we rejoice over what happened at that moment in history, but for us believers, it is not a past event, but "today in the city of David a Savior has been born to us, he is Christ the Lord. "(Lk 2:11), and this place of his birth, the city of David, this Bethlehem is us! Christ makes his dwelling place in us as he promised, and nothing can separate us from him; he is at home in us! We welcome him, we bless him, we sing to him as the guest of our hearts, filling them with his light. All the lights of Christmas are in truth the glittering of the graces that the Lord lights up in our souls to enter into his feelings and dispositions, so that we can finally live in his image and likeness as he originally created us (cf. Gen 1:26). All the gifts we exchange with one another are signs of the extraordinary gift that God has given us by giving us his beloved Son, for his presence is our salvation! Indeed, the covenant that is sealed in the Incarnation of the Word can never again be destroyed because Christ has risen, in his person he has united man to God for all eternity. This is what we contemplate with wonder in these days of the Nativity.
In celebrating the birth of Jesus in us, we must welcome his growth in us, to live his life and walk in his ways. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 521) says: “Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us.” This is what St. John Eudes preached throughout his life as a missionary priest: “We must continue and fulfill in us the states and mysteries of Jesus, and pray to him often that he may consummate and fulfill them in us and in all his Church. For the Son of God intends to put a share in, and to do as an extension and continuation of, his mysteries in us and in all his Church, by the graces he wishes to communicate to us and by the effects he wishes to bring about in us through these mysteries. And by this means he wants to accomplish them in us” (Life and Kingdom of Jesus in Christian Souls, Complete Works, 1 p. 310). We allow Jesus to communicate to us the dispositions of his Heart on the day of his birth, in the simplicity of evangelical childhood, surrendering himself confidently into the hands of the Father, into the hands of his parents Mary and Joseph. We see the poverty in which Jesus was born and we ask for that poverty without which we cannot live the first Beatitude: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of Heaven is theirs" (Mt 5:3). Yes, let us enter into the "feelings of Christ" (Phil 2:5) so that they may become ours, and thus we will be living images of the Son of God, joyful witnesses of God's presence in this world, heralds and builders of the Kingdom.