On this day in 1968, Thomas Merton died. It is a date I always remember because Merton is one of the people whose writings were enormously helpful to me at a time when I was struggling with where I was with God.
Merton once wrote, “The Church’s belief in Christ is not a mere static assent to His historical existence, but a dynamic participation in the great cycle of actions which manifest in the world the love of the Father for the ones He has called to union with Himself, in his beloved Son.”
It is a great thought to keep in mind in these last two weeks before our celebration of Christmas.
We can all call to mind the image of a young couple who cannot find room in an inn as the woman’s pregnancy. nears its end. We listen to the prophesies of the coming of the Messiah. And we hear stories about a star, and shepherds and wise men.
And it is right that we celebrate the birth of Jesus into the world. But, even as we do, we need to keep in mind that our faith is about more than the historical existence of a man named Jesus.
Ultimately, it is about the love of God – a God who longs for nothing less than our total union with Him. A God who chooses to become human out of love – to show us what it means to be fully human – and fully divine.
And, as the Merton quote suggests, our realization of this reality demands a response. Not mere a passive enjoyment of that love, but our commitment to “manifest in the world” that love.
As we move through these days of Advent, days in which our world is groaning in suffering, we might ask how we might more fully manifest God’s love in the world.