Living in the freedom of Christmas

“This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, 
free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.” 
~ Luke 1.73-75
 

On this eve of the birth of Christ, we join with Zechariah to herald the arrival of God in our midst, in fulfillment of the earliest promises the Lord made to his people. We give thanks for the grace that saves us, the mercy that forgives us, and the steadfast love that preserves our covenant relationship despite our sinful human tendency to neglect it.

Of the many gifts of God for which we are grateful on this day, none is more precious than the freedom that Christ’s coming confers. In the first instance this is freedom from—from the demons that beset us, both out in the world and within our souls. But more importantly, this is freedom to—to worship the Lord, to tread his paths faithfully, to live, or try to live, lives of holiness. We must be careful not to confuse freedom with the license to do as we please. The latter is the way of the world, which hawks the glittering and seductive pleasures of “follow-your-bliss” individualism. The abundant freedom of the soul that Christ offers far transcends the ephemeral happiness of “anything goes,” but it also entails certain obligations. It means to take on the twin yoke of faith and works, to love God with all our might, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Advertisement

The paradox of the birth of Christ is that the king of all the earth came among us in the guise of a helpless infant. The paradox of life in Christ is that if we are to be truly free, we must first cede our much-vaunted autonomy and surrender our lives, our souls and our bodies into the hands of a wise and loving God.

All-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God, On this eve of the birth of your son, grant that I may continue to prepare a place for you not just in the Advent season, but all year round, as I wait in joyful hope for the coming of my savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

You can access the complete collection of the Advent 2015 Reflection Series here.

Author’s Note: Many thanks to all of you who have been keeping Advent with me, and warm wishes for a happy Christmas!

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
William Rydberg
2 years 4 months ago
You seem to have forgotten the most important truth in my humble opinion. To make us partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). It's truly Good News in Christ! Kinda gives you an insight as to why the devil you speak of so often is so pissed. But who cares since the devil is only a creature... Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Blessed be the holy Trinity, One God Glory be to the Father, Glory be to the Son, Glory be to the Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, One God. Forever and ever. Amen... And a small Child shall lead them... Isaiah 11:6 Pax et bonum this Christmastime...

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The Holy Spirit might be the forgotten person of the Holy Trinity.
James Martin, S.J.May 21, 2018
Pope Francis walks past cardinals as he leaves a consistory in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 28, 2017. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis is trying to ensure that those who elect his successor are humble men committed to “a church of the poor and for the poor.”
Gerard O’ConnellMay 21, 2018
James Martin, S.J. discusses this groundbreaking exhibition with Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute and C. Griffith Mann, Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge of the Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 
America StaffMay 21, 2018
Archbishop Matteo Zuppi (Photo/Community of Sant'Egidio website)
Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna calls Father James Martin’s book ‘Building a Bridge’ ‘useful for encouraging dialogue, as well as reciprocal knowledge and understanding.’
Matteo ZuppiMay 21, 2018