We have walked in Advent to celebrate Christmas. We have celebrated this unique mystery, where the human and the divine meet, embrace and kiss each other with a love of predilection (cf. Ps 85:10-11). An encounter that marks the Christian proposal of a new humanity. Starting from this fundamental paradigm, the other paradigms of human-Christian inspiration should be measured, verified and structured. Christmas manifests the predilection of the God-of-Life for his creation and his creatures, appearing with the clear sign of wanting to be involved in their lives, but with respect and depth, as only true love knows how to do. Preference for the poorest and most abandoned, for the most neglected and dehumanised, so that from there, from that apparent insignificance, a light of hope may manifest as a guiding light. The Christian life and the reflection that accompanies it cannot abandon this fundamental theological place and its basic paradigm if they wish to maintain not only its meaning but also, and above all, its relevance and historical plausibility.
If Advent prepared us for the immediate and final expectation, it was to help us generate two simple but fundamental attitudes that would allow Christmas to make history in our lives. That is, to prepare ourselves for the final embrace with the God-of-Life, embracing that God who has already come in the womb of history; the womb of a young woman who becomes the mother of the life sown in her womb, the earth created with the seed of eternity planted, thus the eternal and time meet, in an embrace of unparalleled love. The loving donation that generates incarnate love is the first existential attitude and first orientation of every possible morality.
Christmas is proposed to us as a time and space to open ourselves up to the unexpected and unprecedented novelty, which requires a change of mentality, of integral positioning, to make room for hope, not only renewed but renewing and liberating, to prioritise the generation of communal love, so that the liberated life flourishes and develops as communion in love. Christmas is admiring ‘the fruit of sweet expectation’; it is the possibility of encountering what is most authentic in life, with its greatest joys and most anguished sorrows. Christmas is a celebration in grateful memory and in the ever-present miracle of the new life that is simply present amid our human wearinesses, disappointments and embarrassments, those that fill us with wounds, deaths and sad absences in the festive celebration of this mystery-of-life.
All this human-liturgical time is proposed to us to live it as a future by transforming our present as time and space to foster our personal, community, social, structural and systemic changes. Everything can indeed remain on the surface of celebrations full of commercial clichés. Still, we can also descend a little deeper into our existence and take advantage of the opportunity to renew ourselves in hard joy, stubborn hope and the strenuous encouragement to continue. Let us learn from the journey from this year we have travelled experienced amidst joys and sorrows, hopes and disappointments; it is not a time to give up, but to continue together with the God-of-Life, betting that perhaps we can still do things differently in our lives, in our Church and our society.
Only in this way will Christmas be a space of salvation because outside of life incarnate, as life that dignifies and irrevocably manifests itself as solidarity, we are left with nothing but the sad spectacle of ‘every man for himself’ and ‘every man for himself’, of limitless desolation, of the various destructions through the various systemic violence to which we are subjecting our world. Christian life needs to express itself as empathy-solidarity at all levels. It is overcoming individualism and disruptive oppositions, which atomise theoretical and practical proposals. Christmas opens us from the beginning to the final horizon; its magnanimous gesture guides us with a fundamental criterion of solidarity (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Christmas undoubtedly orients Alfonsian morality because it provokes it to be founded and structured as a proposal of life in solidarity, close to reality and listening to its most profound and suffering cries. After all, it calls it to present itself axiologically as a merciful, benign and supportive morality whose systemic mediation is the option for the most abandoned, sinners, the poor, the discarded, whose horizon of value is liberation from the thousand forms of sin. In the Alphonsian line, it is possible to celebrate the mystery of Christmas and allow oneself to be involved by it in the process of commitment to the transformation of life, that life which knows that it is in need and at the same time knows that it is not abandoned, because the God-of-Life and his followers proclaim, with their contributions and with their existences, that outside of the poor, there is no salvation, that outside of benignity there is no salvation, that outside of an integral ecology there is no salvation, that outside of a world at peace there is no salvation, that outside of an inter-independence in solidarity there is no salvation, that outside of the integration of human differences that humanise in their diversity, there is no salvation… and so we could continue to give us clues as to how to translate the mystery of the incarnation into a coherence of life and morality.
Fr. Antonio Gerardo Fidalgo C.S.R.
(the original is in Italian, published on www.alfonsiana.org)