The Re-creation Brought about by Christ
by Fr Mauro Lepori,
Abbot of the Cistercian Monastery of Hauterive in Switzerland
Fr Giussani’s beautiful essay on Christmas set up a resonance in
me of a verse from the Prologue to the Gospel of St John: “He was in the
world, and the world came into being through Him; yet the world did not know
Him” (Jn 1:10). Everything that exists, exists through Jesus Christ. Everything
is created because of Christ and in Christ, and there is no meaning for the farthest
star of the most distant galaxy, nor for the most infinitesimal particle of matter,
outside of Jesus Christ. Between the infinitely big and the infinitely small,
God wanted to have a creature, man, capable of knowing the meaning of everything,
capable, that is, of knowing Jesus Christ, the Word of God. Man’s heart
is by nature the point of the universe from which every creature tacitly originates
the question of its meaning and from which every creature awaits and welcomes
the answer. All creation calls–groaning with labor pains (see Rom 8:22)–for
man’s encounter, the human heart’s encounter, with the Meaning of
everything, which is Jesus Christ.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through Him.” The Magi
came from the East to express in their desire the question asked by the stars.
And the answer revealed itself to be a Baby in His Mother’s arms, because
the One because of whom the world was made chose to be in the world like this,
in the daily naturalness of a baby attached to his mother. Encountering that
Baby, man’s heart, consulted by every creature, finds an answer to the
Meaning of everything.
I believe that the gifts of the Magi, so little suited to the practical life
of the Holy Family, in reality express the fundamental questions that man, when
he is wise, carries inside himself, to lay them at the feet of an Answer that
man does not come up with himself, if he is wise, if he is true to himself, true
to the stars or to the “tiniest poplar leaf.” Coming up with the
answer by oneself is an insult to the universe’s question, an offense to
the nature of all things. Thus, the question about the value and beauty of things
(gold), the question about the existence and the face of God (incense), the question
about the mystery of death, and thus about the meaning of mortal life (myrrh),
wander about in mankind, in history, in culture, until they come to rest in the
presence of God made man, the presence of Him who made all things and is here,
inside the world.
When man, like the Magi, encounters the Word made flesh, he can set out again
towards beauty and values, towards the thirst for God in every man, towards life
and towards death. He can set out again towards his family, friends, work; he
can set out again towards himself and the mystery of his heart; he can set out
again, full of answer, meaning, the Meaning of everything and everybody: Jesus
Christ, God with us, present in Mary’s arms, carried and shown to the world
by the company of the Church.
So, welcoming that Baby, welcoming that Man, is everything. Welcoming Christ
is the victory and the certainty, is peace and joy for me and for everybody,
the joy of all the groaning creation. Welcoming Christ is the victory of being
over nothingness, of meaning over nonsense. Welcoming Jesus makes everything
positive. John writes further on, “But to all who received Him, who believed
in His name, He gave power to become children of God” (Jn 1:12).
Everything becomes positive for those who welcome Christ in everything and in
everyone. Even fleeing into Egypt, the victim of Herod’s falsehood and
arrogance of power, Joseph lived a fullness with Mary, because through that circumstance
it was asked of him and given to him to welcome even more profoundly the presence
of Jesus in his life, and thus to receive from Him the power to become in an
even more real way a child of God, just like Him. And what could be more positive
for mortal man than to become a child of God like Jesus Christ, in the dramatic
dailiness of his existence?!