Christmas 2016 with the Little Sisters
Let us not hesitate to be those open houses, welcoming others, each one of us a partner in her own way, with those who care for those who are excluded, refugees, and also all those who are lonely because of illness, ageing, absence of relations – all the social and material hardships that place people on the margins of society.
“And the Word was made flesh,
He dwelt among us ….
Today and forever”
A meeting! Or rather, the “decision” for a meeting!
God our Creator wished to remain with us. This encounter, this unheard-of event, was being prepared according to the time of humanity from ‘the beginning’, forever. And, throughout the Bible, we can remember many other encounters. The one that says most to us in this year of preparation for the General Chapter is doubtless the meeting between Mary and Elisabeth. These two women experienced that privileged moment of total joy. The joy that is aroused by an encounter when it gives Life. The joy of discovering that the Salvation they were awaiting had arrived.
In our present-day world that is experiencing so much pain, can we enter into the deepest level of ourselves to rediscover that joy of the Salvation that comes through the Incarnation of our God?
Let us take the time to meditate on these words spoken by Etienne Pernet to the sisters when he wished to pass on the point up to which the Lord took the path of love for us:
“What does He (Our Lord) do? His love of us impels Him to remain among us… He is even less than He was in the crib and on the cross. He conceals Himself under appearances… He makes Himself our food. We partake of Him…
Ah, my children, I want you to understand this doctrine well. It is the true doctrine, the doctrine that gives strength. I want you to be strong, and I ask Our Lord to make you so. Yes, you who are here, and all those who will come later, must be fully disposed to shoulder the cross, to walk with courage, to keep on to the end, and be determined to give one’s life, drop by drop until the last is given, for the salvation of souls.
Do not forget this. It is so easy to let ourselves be carried, it is so pleasant to be able to lean on someone else and to leave him, if not all the work, at least the heavier part. No! Let there be none of that among us. The crib: let us be content with a stable. The cross: let us not complain if we suffer, let us be happy to expiate. At the mission, when God asks us to sacrifice ourselves for anybody, for anything, let us do it wholeheartedly.
…I was wondering, last night, what is needed for the sacrifice to be complete and that we may reach that blessed point where God is pleased because we have given ourselves so completely to Him that we no longer have anything? I placed myself before the crib, contemplating the Infant Jesus; there I saw two things that I am bringing you this morning because I find them to be as true as they are profound… Here are the two notes that resound, that move our souls before the new-born Jesus: abasement and generosity.
If we understand that, my daughters, if we approach Our Lord, adoring Him in His self-abasement and His love, we will have grasped something of the Mystery of the Incarnation, of the Birth of Our Lord and of the Redemption.” ("Some Principles of the Spiritual Life: The Mystery of Jesus Christ", pp. 32-33).
May we let ourselves be impregnated by these impassioned words of Etienne. May he communicate to us his apostolic zeal and his unlimited generosity in being shaped to the likeness of his Lord.
Christmas repeats to us the urgency and the happy call to continue that mission of incarnation.
“The Church is called to be an open house of the Father”, Pope Francis says to us in the apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the gospel”. So, let us not hesitate to be those open houses, welcoming others, each one of us a partner in her own way, with those who care for those who are excluded, refugees, and also all those who are lonely because of illness, ageing, absence of relations – all the social and material hardships that place people on the margins of society.
Let us be houses of Peace where reconciliation and forgiveness exist among sisters in the community, and intermediaries, alongside others, of non-violence. A house of peace that protects the planet, by the most ordinary actions of life, and by our words and collective commitments when that is possible.
Let us be houses of Peace because we have space for personal prayer, for the contemplation of God who, in His Son, joins us by His self-abasement so as to raise us with Him, today.
Then, this path of incarnation that we are called to follow in its radical expression each day can make its voice heard. This voice reveals the love of God for each person as a unique being, and, in the first place, for the smallest, the “lowest”: a Love that is given and which, in a globalised world, is a source of life for all.
Is that not our joy and what gives strength and confidence so as to, with Christ, a little child of Bethlehem, welcome and offer to our world the “traces of light” that proclaim Salvation:
A child is born to us
A Son is given to us,
His power of love is eternal!
A Very Happy Christmas! And, in the year 2017, may we know how to “encounter” many so as to help a just and fraternal life to grow.
With all our sisterly affection,