Awkward Catholic

Living my faith as the awkward man of God that I am.


Leave a comment

An Act of War

As we grow closer to celebrating the Nativity of Christ, it’s important for us to recognize that for many of us, the Incarnation and birth of Christ has become common place and mundane. It is such a comfortable and joyous season we celebrate, filled with happy songs about snowmen and Santa, eggnog and shiny lights that we forget how terribly powerful it all is. The Incarnation and birth of Christ was an act of war, not simply a bedtime story. It was the landing at Normandy, D-Day in a war that has raged all across history and wherever human hearts beat. When Christ landed he declared war on all the powers of hell; with victory assured we press on, fighting to bring the light of Christ back into our lives and the world. This is the truth of the Nativity story. It is a beachhead from which our salvation is won.

But let us not fall into the subsequent trap like the Jews did at the time of Christ; thinking that the Messiah was coming to conquer Rome with military might. I sometimes have this problem, in a sense. I have a tendency to imagine what it will be like when his kingdom comes, when his will is done on earth as it is in heaven. I think of how life will be, how just the laws will be, etc. And while those types of things will happen, that’s not what’s needed right now and it’s certainly not where Christ began his war.

A regional or earthly kingdom is not really the point at all, nor is he simply a savior of the moment. This war isn’t for land, or individual rights, or anything other than the human heart. “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword,” Luke 12:49. Christ is the Truth, and truth is a sword… a sword aimed directly at your heart. Christ will divide and conquer, he will cut out the idols and sins we set up within the deepest recess of our hearts and replace them with Himself.

It has always only ever been about our hearts. He is not merely the God of the universe, though he is that. He does not need to conquer kingdoms and territories (it’s already his anyway!). The one thing he has come to conquer and claim as his own is the only thing in all creation he does not inherently possess… in a word, YOU!! No, he is not merely the God of the Universe, He is the God of Love!

Peter Kreeft wrote of this beautifully in his book Jesus Shock (one of my all time favorite books) when he said,

“The world was converted by the Gospel because the Gospel is the beautiful love story of God’s crazy love for man. The story of the world’s conversion to this love story is also a love story: it is the story of man’s love for this crazy God. We were not converted by the reasonableness of the story. The story is not reasonable! It would be far more reasonable for a man to love the rebellious ants in his pet ant farm so much that he became an ant and let the rebel ants torture him to death in order to save the ants from their sins. We sinned for no reason but an incomprehensible lack of love, and He saved us for no reason but an incomprehensible excess of love. Everything in the story is crazy, nothing is reasonable, nothing is expected, nothing is boring, and everything is beautiful. How can our response to such beauty be boring instead of beautiful? How can we ossify and mummify the Living One? How did we invent the spiritual taxidermy that turns Christ the Tiger into a toy to cuddle and sell? Far better to shout, “Crucify him!” than to mumble comfortably, “Isn’t he nice?” He is not Christ the Kitten but Christ the King, Christ the Tiger, Christ the Lion. And when you hear this lion roar, even if you believe it is only a myth, “a midsummer night’s dream,” you can’t not say, with the good duke, “Let him roar again!”

Kreeft, Peter, Jesus Shock, P. 60

So this Advent and Christmas season, let us learn to hear the roar of this mighty lion, this tiny, defenseless baby and allow Christ to conquer our hearts and transform our lives.

Mother Mary, pray for us who have recourse to you.