Updated: Jan 7, 2021
The Glorious Feast of Advent causes us to reflect on the wonderous Glory of God.
In these days of Advent, I have been praying about the restrictions that used to stand to attention, which have somehow blended into the very fabric of our culture to the point where they are barely discernible.
The restrictions of this year seem to remind me that this Earthly life is smothered in restrictions.
Over these last few days of Advent, the Mass readings and Gospel have told us the story of the conception and birth of John the Baptist and of Christ Himself.
The Angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and then later to Our Blessed Mother, and said, “Do not be afraid.”
God so favours His creations, that He seeks to reassure us in every way. Angels appeared to Zechariah, to our Blessed Mother, to the shepherds and then – thousands of years later – to the children of Fatima. Each time the angels appeared among the first words that they said were “DO NOT BE AFRAID.”
Those blessed few who received such angelic visions could witness some fraction of the eternal beauty of God – and it was fearful in its majesty, because they were used to the restrictions of this Earthly life.
Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah, like Sarah, the wife of Abraham, restricted by their biological age, were used by God in shattering restrictions. Our Blessed Mother, restricted by her virginity, was used for the same purpose.
And yet, despite this shattering of restrictions, through the conception of these men, John, Isaac, Christ, God made use of restrictions here too. John, the last Prophet of the Old Testament, lived a life of fasting and abstinence to draw others to God, and as a young man he was beheaded. Isaac’s own father almost sacrificed him for God. For Christ, the story is similar, though magnified. Christ, who is infinitely good, was, as a young man, crucified for our sins as the Lamb of God, the Way, the Truth and the Light.
In these cases, these men were restricted by Time and Space. For John and Isaac, being only human, such a restriction is sadly the result of Original Sin, and no shock to us (nothing is more certain than death and taxes as they say). And yet, Christ, God the Son, who through the mystery of the Holy Trinity Created the World, placed himself into Time and Space for LOVE OF US.
This means that the unrestricted Creator of the Universe – God Himself – placed restrictions upon Himself for no other reason than for LOVE OF US!
This ALMIGHTY KING made Himself a HELPLESS BABY only for LOVE OF US.
How selflessly did God the Creator cast aside for His infinite glory through the mystery of the Holy Trinity, in surrendering His beloved son to the restrictions of the Cross?
God humbled Himself and restricted Himself to Time and Space, because of our sin. God – who had access to the entire universe and all of creation – crawled within the equivalent of a small plastic cubbyhouse, and squished inside with us for a moment in Time, because that is where we were, and we needed him. There He stayed a while, playing in our small Space in the world even when we did not treat him fairly, and when we hurt Him, because that is where we were, and we needed him.
In considering this glorious sacrifice of God, which was purely for LOVE OF US, I have come to consider restrictions differently now.
God Himself restricted Himself for love of us. That means something!
As I consider Romantic literature in text and film over Christmas season, through the great gift of Grace, I can now so clearly notice the difference between Romance and Love. And they are NOTHING alike.
Romance is exciting and fun, like a breath of fresh air. But Love, real Love, is sacrifice – a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice.
While the possibilities are endless for Romance, the choices are restricted in Love.
With ROMANCE we RECEIVE – gifts, time, treasures. With LOVE, we GIVE – everything we have – emptying ourselves out for the one we love, as Christ did with his arms wide open on the Cross – to embrace the whole world.
For it is only in restraining ourselves to give to those we love that we can truly try to follow Christ’s example on the slow journey to Calvary. For with Love, we will not march there, carrying our Cross. Rather, love will allow us to share in the fellowship of Christ, and through that, we will DANCE.
With Love we will DANCE all the way to Calvary, and onwards to Eternal Life.
Because it is only through the restrictions of love that we will we ever be free.
For with prayer and the grace provided by prayer, everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.