This week, we celebrate the Nativity of Jesus, God's incarnation and birth in our midst. He is Emmanuel -- God with us!
It is a marvel that God should choose to approach us as a baby, so gentle, safe, and
adorable. Whenever we see a newborn infant, we immediately want to hold him, to protect and nurture him, to make him respond to our affections. So too, God loves it when we approach the Eucharist with the same demeanor: to see his presence as gentle, safe, and adorable; to want to be close to him, to protect and foster our relationship with him, and to want to please him by the affections of our heart.
To adore God, like the shepherds and magi, is to recognize the immediacy of God's presence, his closeness to us, his incarnation. Our attendance at Holy Mass is our weekly connection to God living among us. We hear the stories of his life in the scriptures proclaimed at Mass. We are witnesses to the prayers of the priest, as he invokes the Holy Spirit upon gifts of bread and wine, consecrating them into Jesus' Body and Blood, the singular sacrifice he offered for our salvation. God incarnates anew in front of us. Then we commune with him in a manner which we find safe and consoling: as spiritual food for our journey to heaven. Our ever-gentle and approachable God transforms us with his grace. To live without Holy Mass is to live without this immediate contact with God incarnate. To live without the eucharist is to live without tangible communion of the divine.
Likewise, in Eucharistic Adoration, we talk to God as a friend, face-to-face. St. John Vianney, a pastor of a rural parish, once asked one of his parishioners why he was spending so much time gazing at the tabernacle in church. The parishioner responded, "I look at him, and he looks at me." This shows how far we can go in our adoration of Jesus, to SEE him with the eyes of faith, and to allow ourselves to be seen.
Our parishes are making a conscious effort this year to understand the mystery of God with us in the Holy Eucharist. On January 4th, the Feast of the Epiphany, at 3:00 PM, we will begin Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, wherein every able parishioner is committing to one hour a week of praying in front of the Eucharist in our new office chapel. Our devotion is sure to help us marvel at how close our God really is.
~Fr. Aaron Kuhn