DON’T TAKE DOWN THE CHRISTMAS TREE! WHY? Because it’s still Christmas and some Christmas Trees are simply upside down! I’ve stumbled across this twice since my Christmas Vacation. It’s a massive piece of art found in the central consumer spot of San Francisco. It is believed that Saint Boniface used the upside down Christmas tree to preach about the mystery of the Trinity. As a result, people began to see the Fir Tree as God’s Tree. By the 12th Century, people in Europe hung trees from their ceilings as a Christian Symbol …. believe it or not, authentic or just a story … it’s a fun story. Regardless, God is always interested in turning us inside out and upside down to call us to constant conversion until we are made in his likeness.
During this octave of Christmas, we celebrate the Feast of John the Apostle, known also as the Beloved Disciple … He was the youngest of the pack of imperfect men chosen to follow the Lord Jesus.
Today, the Church offers the 20th chapter of the Gospel of John in her liturgy (Jn 20:1-8). I’d like to speak a little on Simon Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved along with the phrase they both ran (Jn. 20:4).
Simon Peter represents leadership in the Church. He also represents the frailty of human beings as he denied the Lord during our Lord’s passion (Jn. 13:36-38; 18:15-18, 25-27). On the other hand, Peter represents a leader who did not fall into despair. He repented and returned to our Lord, strengthened by love (Jn. 21;15-19). Peter represents authority.
The disciple whom Jesus loved was the youngest of them all. He was the one who reclined at our Lord’s chest (Jn. 13:23). He was near our Lord the moment our Lord announced that one will betray him. I imagine the youngest clinging to the master out of fear, looking to find reassurance that everything will work out. At the same time, I also imagine how he listens to the heartbeat of our Lord and learns to love our Lord more deeply even in his hour of glory. The youngest disciple represents love.
Both these men ran to the joy of the Lord’s triumph over death to go and believe! Yet love ran faster than authority. At the same time, upon coming to the entrance of the empty tomb, love waited on authority and proceeded together. This idea led to me to consider how I live my own discipleship.
As a modern disciple, I am moved by my love for the Lord to announce his Resurrection. Yet, my growing love, often flawed by sin, has to attend to authority found on the rock of the Church. More specifically, my love must constantly be purified by the sacraments and nourished by the Eucharist. If I fail to do this, my personal love for Christ will be misguided and I will run in all directions except toward the truth of Christmas and Easter.
O Risen Lord, call me to run to you as the Peter and your Beloved Disciple ran to you. Let me run to you with a fervor love that is always guided by the authority of your Church and those responsible for my formation. Let me meet you in those suffering knowing that you are the Babe of Bethlehem, the Son of God and Son of Mary … the Resurrection, and the Life. Let my love be purified by the graces you bestow in the sacramental life of your Church.