God has three comings to us. The first is seen in the Nativity of Christ along with His Epiphany. He comes to His Chosen in His Nativity; He arrives for the whole world in His Epiphany. To focus our vision, Holy Mother Church bids us first see Him through the eyes of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then through a procession of prophets down through the years: Micah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Zacharias and St. John the Baptist, to mention here only a few, all bidding us to have eyes to see and ears to hear.
God’s coming to us is both in mercy and in judgment. His nature is both in divinity as well as in humanity. His presence is both in time as well as in timelessness. It is in His powerlessness that His omnipotence is revealed. Born to die, He does not lose anything of His divinity but wins everything back to His Father by becoming Humanity. The wood of the manger becomes the wood of the Cross; the obscure Jesus of Nazareth becomes the Risen Christ of brilliant glory. In His return to divinity He does not lose His humanity. It is incomprehensible to the sophisticated adult, yet it is immediately apparent to the child.
His second advent we know to be the Second Coming – His return in judgment is to complete His unfinished business. His advent tells us that life is not aimless, purposeless, without a terminus, a meaning, or a direction. It is to Him that we tend because He first tended to us. The reason why we were born, the reason why we live our lives here on earth, and the reason why we die is because He first came to us, brought us to life, and seeks to have us love Him.
Love is that way. Love is so good that it simply cannot keep everything unto Itself. It MUST be shared. Hence, He comes to us that we might come to Him.
The third advent is God’s daily coming to us. He surrounds us, whispers to us, touches us, calls us, and reaches out to us every day we live here in this life. “I was hungry, and you . . . ,” “I was thirsty, and you . . . ,” “I was lonely, and you . . . ,” “I was sick, and you . . . ”
This is a time in which we lift up our eyes and try to recapture the vision of what our lives are all about. This is the time to find light in darkness, warmth in cold, good hidden underneath evil, and God falling in love with ordinary humanity – with yours and with mine.
And so we do not wish you “Happy Holidays” as the world does. We wish you something far more profound. For the Light of the world, the One who was crucified on a tree, is revealed in the symbol of the shimmering Christmas Tree, and lives now within your humanity and ours.
May His arrival find us waiting for Him with hearts warmed in eager love, with eyes that long to see Him, and with arms that reach out to embrace Him.
God bless us, each and every one!
REVEREND CHARLES IRVIN, or “Father Charlie,” as he is known, was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on January 6, 1933. He was raised and educated there, graduating from the University of Michigan’s Law School. After a brief career as an attorney he entered the seminary and was ordained a priest in 1967. Shortly thereafter he began an eleven-year ministry at St. Mary’s Student Chapel in Ann Arbor. A rich variety of ministries followed including appointments to many advisory positions in the Church and three other pastorates. In the early 1970s he began writing columns for several Catholic newspapers in Michigan. In 1999 he was appointed founding editor of Faith magazine, published by the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan. Today, the magazine serves seven dioceses.