We can never properly absorb the message of Christmas. It is simply too big. Certainly, we cannot understand a God who loves that much. We struggle just to appreciate this expression of God’s love. We have only our own experience of love to help us. And our own experience of love is so puny in comparison with the love of God. I think that we must simply admit the fact that we are still in the kindergarten in the school of God’s love.
God loves human beings so much that He stepped down from being God and became one of us. Everything in this sentence is improper, impossible, and beyond belief. How does God “step down” from being Who He is? Why would God do that? We do not do that. It does not make sense to us. I have a friend in prison; I feel for him, but I do not want to join him there. It makes no sense to do so.
Yet that is what God did. He has joined us in our misery. We do not know how it could happen; we do not know why. All we can do is celebrate this mysterious fact of love. This is what we do each Christmas. We look into the crib and see the love, and try to appreciate what we see. This act of God’s love, which we cannot understand or make sense of, we can appreciate.
That love can carry us through some bad times. The love of God is our universal lift, no matter what the problem. If we lose a job, or a friend, if we are sick or depressed, the memory of the love of God can lift us up.
This Christmas, we need to stare into the crib and appreciate what we see. The message of the crib is the ultimate answer to any problem we face, or will ever face.
Fr. James O'Leary
When I am anxious, it is because I am living in the future. When I am depressed, it is because I am living in the past.
We are urged by experts to live properly in the present. There can be definite traps in living too much in past or present, as the above saying suggests. But how much time we must stay in the present, I think is different for everyone. I have seen exact figures on how much time a normal person should be I the present. I think such exactitude is nonsense. First of all, who wants to be normal? Then there can be a great variance in how must time people spend in the present, people who are all functioning very well in the real world.
If we do not spend time in the past, we will not learn from our past. If we do not spend time in the future, we cannot have dreams, and then we are really in trouble. Dreams are worth the anxiety.
Where we mentally live our lifetime wise, is not chiseled in stone. We can adjust. A drive in a blinding snowstorm is not the time to dream, better stay in the present. If we are getting depresses, we might better get out of our past and start dreaming. If I am scared, I might try to stay out of the future and dream some other time.
We all have a clock in our head, a consciousness clock. We can adjust our consciousness in a wise way. We can live properly in our past, our future and our present. Then we may not be normal, but we will be wise.
Fr. James O'Leary
There is a world all around us which I fear is not recognized by many people. Indeed, I suspect so many people do not know that it exists. That world is the world of the Spirit. The book of Wisdom in the Old Testament tells us that all the wonders of this world should lead us to the wonder of God. As far as I can see, we do not reflect enough to let this process happen. Too often, material things only remind us that we dearly love to feel good. We never take the next step into the world of God.
That world is all around us. It is not on the moon. We do not have to travel to reach it. The world of the Spirit is within us and all around us. We simply have to enter into it. And we do that with prayer. It is as simple as that. We just have to sit down for a few minutes and decide to be aware of the reality around us and within us. God is in us and around us as much as He is anywhere. He is here; all we have to do is notice.
We do not have to live in one world. We can live in two. We cannot live only in the world of the Spirit. We would be running into utility poles. But there is so much to be said for spending “gobs” of time in the world of the Spirit. It is where we will find peace. It is where God will tell us who we are.
And there are people who do not know that the world of the Spirit even exists. That is why Scripture says, “Wake up.” The world of God is never further away from us than one step—of consciousness.
Fr. James O'Leary
Experience is a different kind of teacher, giving you first the test, and then the lesson.
Life is a bit different. Usually we think that we will study to learn how to do something, and then do it. We learn to prepare. In life we do it first, and then prepare to learn. Parenthood is a good example. Commonly, no one teaches young couples how to parent. It is pretty much learn as you go. Maybe that is because experienced parents simply cannot communicate that wisdom. It is too complex. Perhaps experienced parents know that every family is so unique that there is not pattern to follow. So, young parents have to learn as they go.
I think all of life is too complicated for an instruction manual. There are general principles of wisdom that can be followed, but to apply these is the trick. No one encounters life without struggle and doubt. Marriage, parenthood, all of life is a come as you are party. One must plow into it and learn as we go. It strikes me that we would never accept a job this way. For a job, we would want a description; we want to know what is expected. Real life does not work that way. We get no blue print.
So, in life we are often unprepared. We must plunge ahead and trust in God that He will give us everything we need to encounter life well. We must depend, because we are only children and He is Father. Life is a different teacher. First comes the examination, then comes the learning part. You can say what you with about it. Life is rarely boring.
Fr. James O’Leary