Abbot John's Christmas Homily

Abbot_John_Klassen_2.jpgImagine with me a professional woman, Cari, an OBGYN, about 36-37, who is deeply conflicted. She spends all of her work life delivering other women's babies, 3000 of them, more or less. It is hard work but intensely satisfying. It allows her to mask her own deep desire for a child.

One day, a woman hands her baby to Cari and asks her to hold the child while she goes to the bathroom. 

“No, I am not very good at holding children.”

“Her name is Katie – deal with it!”

Cari sets the child on a counter and a monologue unfolds.

“Katie, is that short for Katherine?”

Katie looks right at Cari ­– with utterly open blue eyes. She flashes this big smile, enough wattage to light up this room. You know, you are not going to win.

“So, you smile so beautifully. Some might think that this is intentional. You know, I am a doctor, so I know it may just have been a tic or gas. You know, you are not that cute, and I am not falling for you.”

Katie takes hold of Cari's ID card and puts it into her mouth. 

“Why are you putting that into your mouth? You know it could have germs and it will make you sick.”

Cari leans close and touches her head to Katie's.

“You know, some women may need a child to feel complete. But I am fine without you.”

But Katie continues to gaze at Cari – and looks right into her soul, a soul that is aching for new life.

“Fine, you win.”

In that moment, Cari understands and accepts her own deep desire to have a child.

For me, this scene is a parable of sorts. As human beings, we may be able to find 26 reasons for doubting God's love – God's work in the world. It remains an idea, sometimes there; sometimes real; but then all of a sudden that idea is just one among many, no longer so bright and compelling. 

I think this is why the Word becoming flesh is compelling, because love is now en-fleshed; it has a body. If you have held a child and received its gaze, its smile, its wail when afraid or in pain, this is not an idea – this is as real as it gets.

Like Cari, we may say: “Some people may need God's love but I am fine without it – I need some rules, some guidelines but that's about it.” That is, until we receive the gaze of the Savior, the Word made flesh. Suddenly our deep need, our deep hunger for God, for God's love is revealed to us.

God's vision for us is lavish and infinite. God longs for us to embrace the universe of his love and abundance. We are the ones who are reluctant and apprehensive. We allow ourselves to struggle, as though Jesus never came, as though he never saved us or gave his life completely for us. Fine, you win. 

Abbot John Klassen, OSB
December 24, 2016