As we approach the Christmas of 2017 with joy and hope, let us deepen our understanding of the mystery of the incarnation with a contemplative heart formed in the forge of the heart of Mary. There is no better preparation than what her Immaculate Heart set for the Word to become flesh and dwell among us. Our missionary heart needs the sensibility of the Heart of Mary to welcome God’s word and become witnesses and messengers of the joy of the Gospel.
The event of incarnation upsets the human priorities and interests, and invites us to make a U-turn on the road trekked recklessly towards human self-aggrandizement and personal glory. In the XXV General Chapter, we resolved to be a Congregation “going forth” (MS.66). Incarnation is the key to understand what it means “to go forth”. The self-emptying love of the Trinity is behind the “going forth of God” in “taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men” (Phil 2: 6-7). While human rejection pushed the travelling couple of Nazareth to the corner of a stable in Bethlehem, the calves and kitten moved by the side to give place for the baby to be born. Even the stars beckoned the seeking magi to the manger in the peripheries of Bethlehem to adore the new-born prince of peace. Indeed, the greatest event of our history takes place in eco-cosmic harmony and cooperation!
Christmas is the celebration of the first sending, the ground of every missionary sending in the Church. The sending of the Son of God to us and his becoming one among us has transformed our human history. Our missionaries in various peripheries are able to accept the demands of inculturation and enter into the life of the people when they make present the dynamics of incarnation in their life and mission. Christmas becomes real when there is the surge of joy and hope among the people as the missionaries reach those geographical and existential peripheries of human suffering. At Christmas, I think of our missionaries who bring joy and hope in different corners of the world in the midst of hardships. They have left their homes to be present where God wants a Christmas. Yes, a missionary makes his own the response of the Son of God to his sending, “Here am I Lord, send me” (Is 6:8).
There is no Christmas if we remain closed up in our comfort zones and cling to our petty social circles. Anointed by the Spirt, a missionary goes forth to make a home with those who are without homes and those deprived of their dignity and worth as God’s children. I hope that the Christmas of this year impels us to see the suffering of our brothers and sisters around us with the heart of God. We shall renew our missionary availability to be sent in mission with the sentiments of the Son, Emmanuel-God with us.
I wish all the Claretian family, friends and collaborators a very joyful Christmas followed by a grace-filled New Year!
Mathew Vattamattam cmf