Last night we left off asking the Newborn King for the grace to become the apostles of His Sacred Heart. Christmas has always been the inspiration for follies of love. To see God incarnate in a Babe, a Babe so full of tenderness, a Babe without defense, a Babe to which the human heart can only surrender itself in gratitude, this has been the source of so many efforts at purifying and evangelising the world. And what is the secret to those follies of love? As with any love, it is nourished by presence.
A pious author remarks that there were three kinds of people in and around Bethlehem at the time of our Saviour’s birth. Most of them were indifferent. They may or may not have heard of the extraordinary event, they may or may not have made an effort to find out more and even go and see, but in the end they could not be shaken out of their lethargy, their attachment to worldly things, and their hearts remained cold. Even so today, such is the lot of the great number of human beings. The birth of Jesus, when it is known, is not appreciated, it is left aside as an odd event that is inexplicable and unworthy of our time.
A second category of people were those who were made aware of it because they truly sought God, their hearts were righteous and God wanted to reward them. Those hard-working shepherds had the visit of an angel and heard the heavenly praise. The Magi, in their longing for the coming Messiah, were given to see His star and make the long journey to worship Him. Both these groups, and perhaps there were others, represent those persons who truly believe in Christ and give Him His due in terms of faith and adoration. They go to Mass, receive the sacraments, and practice the works of mercy. The grace of God is at work in them, and they will save their souls if they persevere.
A third category is very limited in number. It is composed of only two people that we know of: Our Blessed Lady and St Joseph. They are privy to the whole mystery; they serve it directly and unreservedly; their time with the Lord is not limited to occasional visits and Sunday Mass. They are with Him all the time; they have direct and unlimited access to His Person; they can spend as much time with Him as they wish. These are religious souls, those who are blessed to live their lives in the shadow of a cloister, who answer the call of frequent bells to sing His praises, who live in the same house with His Eucharistic Presence, continuation on earth of the mystery of Bethlehem. They vow their lives to Him and are ever ready to further His interests.
More often than not, it is from this category of persons that God chooses the souls whom He destines to change the world. They are, as it were, at His entire disposal, and having them so close to Him, affords Him the leisure to warm their hearts, to set them ablaze with unending love, a love which manifests itself in fraternal charity for those other souls privileged to share such a life, and apostolic charity for all the souls who are in need of salvation, who are far from God, who are in sin and in danger of eternal loss.
Lord Jesus, Infant Saviour, through the intercession of Thy Holy Mother and St Joseph, inspire us on this day with an ever more fervent gratitude for the gift of our vocation, and with a burning love for Thee, for all thine interests, and for the souls whom Thou didst come to save. May this little community grow day by day in its love for Thee, and may it draw ever greater numbers of souls to Thy most Sacred Heart. And so that this might be possible, give to each of us a profound love for each other, for that love is the sign, the only sign at which the world will know that we are Thy disciples.