Traces N.11, December 2016

A Particular History

There’s a strong tie between the cover of this issue of Traces–the announcement of the coming of Christmas, in the form of the flyer that CL produces every year to tell the world how decisive that fact is for our lives–and the closing of the Holy Door, marking the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee with the reminder from Pope Francis that, though the Holy Year has ended, the graces we receive from it are never-ending. “This is the time of mercy,” the Holy Father wrote in his Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera. “Each day of our journey is marked by God’s presence. He guides our steps with the power of the grace that the Spirit pours into our hearts to make them capable of loving.” This is what brings the birth of Christ into the world. Into our world, today.
It’s that child, born at a precise moment in history, it’s His particular history (a place and time, a family, and the entire human drama that follows) that reaches us–always through particular faces and events–and makes what the Pope describes possible. Holding the door of mercy ever open to us, for eternity. Continually offering us the possibility to start over, to begin again, to rediscover how we are embraced in our nothingness. There is no wound that God’s mercy cannot heal. There is no division, brokenness, or incapacity that that “power of grace” cannot piece back together. And it is thanks to that infant that we can have this experience now. It is He who makes that power present. And it is He who brings into our lives a different certainty from that to which we so often want to cling (the security that comes from having understood things, from knowing “how things work,” from becoming more capable), one that is infinitely more solid. It’s the certainty of our relationship with the God who lives among us. All we have to do is look at Him to remember who we are: His creatures. And what we are: loved eternally, without limit. There’s nothing we have to dream up or chase after; all we have to do is look, and recognize that Christ is here now, alive among us. “He who could have simply settled for giving us help,” as St. Bernard reminds us, is here, at work.

On the Traces website, you’ll find a “Page One”
that goes right to the heart of these words, along with many witnesses of this Presence in circumstances as varied and surprising as those that life never tires of placing in front of us, as a continuous provocation for our humanity. From the earthquake in central Italy, which for months has forced those who live there to ask themselves if there’s something or someone that allows them to stay standing, living and hoping even when everything around them comes crashing down; to the annual AVSI campaign which aims to raise awareness and funds to sustain eight projects around the world, where a network of over 12,000 volunteers operates to help people suffering because the state of emergency is becoming more dramatic. And, finally, the testimonies we share from the U.S. after the Presidential election. All these stories reveal the fact that Christianity can change the way we look at life, the way we know things. It can change hearts anywhere. Beyond the boundaries of space and time, yet always passing through these, through faces and encounters. Through a particular history. The one that entered the world at Christmas.