Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
T'is the season
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By Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
November 30, 2014

She had left without much of a good bye and traveled three days to Judea to assist her cousin who was six months' pregnant. Elizabeth was well beyond her years to be having a child. After Elizabeth delivered her son, John, Mary who was three months pregnant herself returned to Joseph, her husband. That was eight month's ago in our calendar, March 25th.

So why have we waited eight months to prepare for the birth of Jesus, the King of Kings we celebrated last Sunday? Perhaps we can ask Jesus. Jesus told his disciples at least three times that he was going to be crucified and die and repeated his declaration at least two times up to his final days with them. Perhaps, Jesus knew as His Church knows that earlier in the year we would be caught up in the advent of Spring and Summer, barbeques and vacations, and in Fall the final World Series games, and in Winter the new seasons of professional football and basketball. Of course, now, we are caught up in the prospects of who will be the final contenders in the Super Bowl past Christmas and in the New Year.

Some of us are still focused on Black Friday continuing deep discount sales which began on Thanksgiving Day, and "the beat goes on." Next week, Christmas week and bumping into January's end of year sales? But there is a certain holiday flare around this season's decorations, holiday tree (once the Christmas tree) and holiday presents "and checking it twice" right up to December 24th.

It may seem fitting. Jesus is born in obscurity, away from home for a government ordered census in Joseph's ancestral home, Bethlehem. There was no available hotel in town but at least the Holy Family had a roof over their heads in a barn. Only Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and her husband, Zachariah, knew that the Savior of the world would be born there, and, surprisingly, strangers and noblemen from the East who had traveled far to pay homage to a newborn King of the Jews who was prophesied in their land. Some shepherds in nearby fields were also told by an angel and came to give homage to the Christ, the anointed one foretold by their prophets many years before.

Would it make any difference if Jesus came today in all his glory and power as he certainly will at the end of the world with every human being in attendance, those of us alive and billions of others who would rise up from the dead at the last judgement? We will then be divided into two camps, one on Jesus' right and others on Jesus's left, some welcomed into the kingdom of heaven and others condemned for ignoring Jesus in the world and his presence in the poor, the naked, and his hungry brothers and sisters. Jesus knew their condition. He was born in a homeless himself. We may be interrupted as Jesus predicted – one in the field and another in the house, one at work and another at leisure pursuing our glory. But our glory pales in comparison to His glory. Can we hold onto his promise of our glory for twenty-five more days?! That would be a start.

I know in our hearts we can. We are here to worships the King of Glory. Glory, glory, alleluia! All we have to do is live in His glory until His coming regardless of the world's passing glory and emptiness.

The author of life is born a man to taste death, die and rise from the dead. God did not will our death. We did when we held onto our sins without asking His forgiveness. We were too busy with other things: having minds without truth, wills without freedom, eyes and ears without understanding. All year long in the gospel readings we heard Jesus repeatedly say, Repent! The days are short. The kingdom of heaven is near. Those "who have ears to hear ought to hear and those who have eyes ought to see." We alone in all of creation have the gifts of God beyond comprehension as co-creators of God's children which today so many violate. God has children without sex and humans have sex without children. What is God to do? Where are his children?

Scripture speaks of Jesus as the firstfruits of creation, the New Adam who ransomed our dead souls conceived in sin who would infuse his life in our souls once more. Before Jesus' birth our fathers from Adam down through the millennia were at enmity with God. Without Jesus we were permanently lost. The spurned gift of eternal life, which is beyond our means, can not be regained by our efforts alone. How can mortality take on immortality on its own?

In the great parable of Adam and Eve, man's creation tells the story. (cf. Genesis 1-4). God creates man, male and female, and creates them as one but separately that we may understand the mystery of two, male and female, becoming one in God's creative plan. God created the world as man's domain with an unrestrained mind and free will like God's in his image and gave man only one command, "increase and multiply." (Genesis 1:24-28). I will leave that work of my creation in your hands, God decided. This command in nature still remains in force but not with man. Men and women must choose life from one generation to another. All other living things obey this command, naturally, male and female cooperators in nature, but man must accept his place in nature or sin and frustrate God's command, "Increase and multiply." All other things in nature are incapable of sin or disobedience except man. All other living things have no intelligence to understand God's will or chose His bidding.

Nothing else in life and nature supercedes this law of creation.

When two, male and female, do not become one in marriage, when one or the other seeks only his or her will they break the compact God made with men and women. In the parable of Adam and Eve their marital relationship was nearly destroyed. Adam and Eve were each led into temptation, separately, first Eve and then Adam. Had they each considered the welfare of the other then God's plan for both of them would have spurned the tempter. But in each's sin against the other – shame, guilt and mistrust entered into the world through their infidelity. Their marriage was so severely weakened that their older son, Cain, killed his younger brother Abel. For the time there were not children in the world. Man and woman had lost their call to care and serve each other and God their first Father. When God called them out by name the man and woman hid themselves from Him and God knew they had sinned. (Genesis 3:8-11). Husbands and wives who hide themselves from God in their selfserving relations especially in contraception spurn His creative power in themselves for the world. Jesus, however, wed himself to his bride, his Church, dying on a cross for our sake and rising from death and returning his life to us, our Father's children, once condemned and now redeemed.

The child and Son of God who was born a man spoke of himself as the Son of Man, the New Adam, wed to his church as his bridegroom to bear new sons and daughters of God. Jesus was the perfect husband who came, as he said, only to serve his bride and not to be served by his bride. Jesus, if we recall, spoke eloquently about his relationship with his bride and the children He and His Church would bear hours before his arrest and death:
    'A little while and you will not see me [Jesus said], and again a little while and you will see me'? I am telling you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:19-22).
From the beginning husbands, wives, children and families depended on our God's fidelity, "Our Father who is in heaven and his kingdom come" – not on bawdry sexual pleasure which will die with our bodies. We live in Him to take on the mind and will of God as his true sons and daughters, and if we must suffer as God's son suffered we do so for the sake of God's heavenly family for generations to come.

The season of Christmas celebrates the selflessness of husbands and wives who care for their children more than all their personal considerations. Marriage is a sacrifice of self on a cross borne in this world "for the joy that a human being has been born" destined for God's world and ours as well. Jesus, Mary and Joseph pray for us. Jesus, Mary and Joseph pray for all husbands and wives and deepen their love of God in the children they bring to Him.

© Fr. Tom Bartolomeo

 

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Fr. Tom Bartolomeo

I am the founder and director of the Families For Families Retreat House, a refuge for anyone who wants to rethink his or her life in a quiet non-demanding environment in an historic house c.1709 when life was less complicated. I am also and primarily a Catholic priest having been a college and university teacher, business-owner and executive among other things. I received my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in English literature from Saint John's University, Jamaica, New York and completed post-graduate studies at Kansas State University. Contact me at FatherTomSays@gmail.com.

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