Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 18, 2000
Time to follow Jesus
MacNeil issues Christmas challenge to love as Jesus did
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Archbishop Joseph MacNeil challenged charismatic Catholics to become more like Jesus Christ by showing the love, patience and compassion of Jesus in their relationships with one another.
Speaking at a prayer breakfast Dec. 9, MacNeil, who retired as Edmonton's archbishop 18 months ago, said Jesus wants people to follow him. "Jesus is challenging each of us to a personal relationship."
More than 200 people attended the prayer breakfast at Chateau Louis Conference Centre. Catholic Renewal Services organized the event.
There is no reason at all for God to love us the way he does but he does because he wants to, MacNeil said.
We are all made in the image and likeness of God. That means we are intelligent, we have reason, we can understand God's love for us. "And God gave us the freedom, the power to say yes or no to him, the power to say yes, I will serve you."
But, as MacNeil noted, sometimes we misuse God's gifts and we refuse to serve.
If a mother feels terrible when her child disobeys her in his pursuit of independence, "imagine how God feels when you say no to him."
"God is challenging us to remain faithful," MacNeil said, urging people to draw closer to Jesus and to love as Jesus did.
Jesus is present to us in the Eucharist and in the body of the Church, which is made up by all the baptized. "We are that body of Christ. Christ is the head of that body - the Church," the archbishop said.
When a mother comforts a terrified child in the middle of the night, he said, she is representing God. "Jesus works through each one of us."
Children react with awe at the sight of the baby Jesus in the nativity scene. Adults don't react the same because "we have become kind of used to the notion of the Incarnation, to the notion that God is one of us," MacNeil lamented. "We should never get used to that notion."
Adults see Jesus grown up, preaching the sermon on the mountain, healing people, teaching people to pray. We see him on the cross, resurrected and we see Jesus among us.
"So when we look at the crib (in the nativity scene) we now have a chance to see way beyond the crib," MacNeil sad. "We see the carpenter, we see the teacher, we see our redeemer, our saviour, we see the Eucharist, we see the Church."
The challenge is to become more like him. "In some wonderful way Jesus is challenging each one of us for a personal relationship," the archbishop said.
"Jesus is challenging us to follow him. So it's important for us to try to see how we understand Jesus in our relationships.
"So this time of Christmas, when we give thanks and praise to God, let's look in our own hearts to see what kind of changes can happen in our lives, to see the implications of the way we relate to one another, to see how we can become more like Jesus."