Fr Senan Furlong OSB
Reframing a picture can transform it. Colours are seen in new light and details barely noticed come to the fore. Of course, the picture itself does not change, but the way we perceive it does. Just as a picture can look different when placed in a different frame, so can a life. So often, we frame our lives wrong, viewing people and events in unhelpful and distorted ways. Reframing offers new possibilities. While we cannot always change the circumstances in which we find ourselves, we can change the way we see them. Changing the frame can change the way we feel. Reframing can also change our response.
Christmas is about reframing. It’s about seeing in a new light: God, our families, our community, our world, ourselves. It’s also about changing our response. The readings of today’s Mass offer us new frames, new possibilities of seeing and responding. The first reading from the prophet Isaiah fashions a frame of encouragement and hope of
salvation. The long night of watching has ended. The lookouts on Jerusalem’s watchtowers peer into the distance and see God’s presence coming towards the city. God is returning to a ruined and desolate Jerusalem. It’s not a dream. It’s for real. Now is the time for these ruins to burst into song. But not only Jerusalem. All the ends of the earth, you and I, will see the salvation of our God.
The opening of the Letter to the Hebrews, which is today’s second reading, presents a frame of affirmation and promise of fulfilment. In times past God spoke in fragmentary and various ways through the prophets, but now in this, the final age, he has spoken through his Son. The new-born Jesus is the eternal Son of God, the radiant light of God’s glory. In Jesus, God has reached fully out to us. We can approach him with confidence.
Today’s gospel, the majestic Prologue to St John’s gospel, gives us a frame of wonder, of grace and truth. In the new-born Jesus, God has come to dwell among us. Full of grace and truth, Jesus is God’s ultimate word to us. The human face of Jesus is the revelation of the face of God. He has come to make us—his brothers and sisters—children of God.
We are God’s work of art but maybe we need to change the frame of the picture of our lives. Christmas is an invitation to do just that. Christmas reminds us that we are made in the image and likeness of God. This is what is most true of us, and what is most true of those we live with. The mystery we celebrate today, the birth of the Christ child, invites us to see the world through the eyes of God. To look upon one another and see what the Father sees: the image of his own beloved Son. Christ’s humanity is the much-needed frame of all human lives. In our broken world ‘where the Prince of Peace is once more rejected by the futile logic of war, and by the clash of arms’ we pray that the true Light coming into the world will pierce the darkness in human hearts. For love of us the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. May we welcome the Word into our lives and become children of God, reflecting the radiant light of his glory in our troubled world.