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The Tenderness of Christmas | KFP Articles
The Tenderness of Christmas PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 17:22

It's Christmas Eve and I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas by sharing a wonderful reflection on the tenderness of Christmas, a theme raised by Pope Francis and elaborated on by Fr.. Carron of CL.  All my years of loving Christmas with its joy and warm heartedness, I had never given significant thought to what makes it so unique.  Sure, Christ was born in humble settings and the humble nature of Christ coming as a child invokes some simple but beautiful lessons.  Pope Francis has presented the humble nature of Christmas in terms of its Tenderness whcih brings out a unique element of humility.  The Pope was asked "What does Christmas say to people today" in an interview published in La Stampa:

It speaks of tenderness and hope. When God meets us he tells us two things. The first thing he says is: have hope. God always opens doors, he never closes them. He is the father who opens doors for us. The second thing he says is: don’t be afraid of tenderness. When Christians forget about hope and tenderness they become a cold Church, that loses its sense of direction and is held back by ideologies and worldly attitudes, whereas God’s simplicity tells you: go forward, I am a Father who caresses you. I become fearful when Christians lose hope and the ability to embrace and extend a loving caress to others. Maybe this is why, looking towards the future, I often speak about children and the elderly, about the most defenceless that is. Throughout my life as a priest, going to  the parish, I have always sought to transmit this tenderness, particularly to children and the elderly. It does me good and it makes me think of the tenderness God has towards us.

At this time of year folks tend to demonstrate a greater tenderness towards each other but this lesson is key to the practice of the Christian faith at all times.  Often our response to injustice and sin is to fight, to correct that injustice and distance ourselves from those influences.  This approach can often become the focus of our efforts.  What is the consequence of this behavior for those responsible for the actions we oppose?  What message do we send to non-Christians when we treat them as part of a problem to be solved not a soul to be loved?  This is where the message of the Pope, which is the message of the Bible "Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature", finds its importance.  We must go out into the world with tenderness towards others for they are souls, with wounded and tender hearts, in need of love and great respect for they are made in the image of God.  

In his sermon Fr. Alberto explained the attachment of the Apostles to Christ "he seized these simple people, entered into the root of their being, not with violence but with tenderness, cotinually taking the initiative with them, until their hearts were full of him, all of him."  The Apostles recognized the goodness of Christ.  They experienced the presence of Christ as an event, something that came upon them and affects them.  When we recognize the presence of Christ we experience a good that corresponds to our most ultimate need.  We recognize our own value and goodness, have affection for our own self, in spite our our sinfullness and weakness.  Christ's tenderness awakens us to reality, the reality of Christ's presence, of our own goodness and the right loving relationship we should have towards others.  

In reflecting on tenderness we see the beginnings of an anthropology of humility.  To love our self is not to have pride in our self, to attempt to place our self above others.  It is to recognize our sins and weakness.  Recognizing our own tenderness and weakness can be done by living simple and loving the poor as Pope Francis asks,  but at its root humility is not these actions.  It involves a state of being where we recogize our tenderness, our smallness before the complexity and beauty of God and his creation, and reach out to others respecting their tenderness.  To be tender is not weakness or treating others as weak.  Rather, being tender towards others is to respect the great uniqueness and importance of their heart. 

True humility comes from an event, the event of Christ in our life, and I beg for the continual renewal of that experience.  As Fr. Carron stated in the 2013 Exercises "So then, our hope is that this Event continue to happen and attract us so much that it reawakens in us the desire to engage, so that we can grasp It when It happens.  In fact, if we do not perceive His presence, the center of our affections inevitable shifts..." 

I pray this Christmas we can keep this Event before us as we enter into the new year.

To close with a quote from Pope Francis: "I would like to repeat to humanity what I said to that mother: give food to those who are hungry! May the hope and tenderness of the Christmas of the Lord shake off our indifference.

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