I have come to believe that today more and more people are choosing to living in a bubble – a bubble of illusion. It is getting harder and harder to discover who a person really is. Because the world is so fast and complicated, our precious time is spent on instant, mostly superficial, messaging and communicating. Our hard-earned money is often spent on non-essentials things like cosmetics. (I know some of you are thinking, but for ME it IS essential.)
You know what I mean is more in the realm of chosen priorities. The global cosmetic industry generated close to $35 billion in 2010 and is projected to reach large multi-billion figures within the next few years. Several statistical reports show this upward trend. One report I read recently predicts that the global cosmetic industry will reach 265 billion by 2017.
And what do cosmetics and other beauty products do? They create an illusion. According to the law of gravity, everything that goes up, falls back down. It is my belief that every artificial bubble we blow, sooner or later will burst and the illusion will come toppling down like Humpty Dumpty. In a similar way, using technology, people project images of themselves that are not true. And this is considered acceptable. In some places, it is encouraged. Instead of presenting ourselves as we are, as God made us, so often we feel that we – the real me or the real you – just isn’t up-to-par with what we want to be seen as, for we feel within ourselves so very inadequate in a work situation or a budding personal relationship.
God wants us just as we are. He wants us to pray with a sincere and true prayer, a personal heart-to-heart conversation with Him – just as we are. He wants us to rejoice in the uniqueness of our own personalities, the personality He gave us.
There was a wonderful Jesuit retreat master who would come from time to time to give our weekend retreats for women here at Sacred Heart Retreat House in Alhambra, California. I still remember him saying something like, “Ladies, for tonight’s reflection, I’m going to ask you to do something special. Quietly go to your room and look at yourself in the mirror. Then just go ahead and take all of your make-up OFF. ALL of it. Do this slowly and meditatively almost as a prayer. Then when you are back to your true self, sit down and look in the mirror and say quietly, “God made me out of love and He loves me just as I am.” Many women remarked to me that this meditation was life-changing for them. That’s right – life-changing.
So, this year during Advent, let us all reflect on and thank God for the gift of life. Let us come to the stable humbly, just as we are without pretending to be something we aren’t. And while we are at it, let us let go of any judgmental attitude we may have toward another person and learn to accept them. And when we spend time with our family and friends, I suggest we make it quality time, not just a quick text message, a brief-email, or an almost wordless “tweet”.
Let’s thank God sincerely for the important things this Christmas. Let us thank him for life, health, family, friends, for our freedom to worship. There are so many things He has blessed us with. Let us thank Him most of all for the greatest Gift, His Son, born as a baby to remind us of His great love for each one of us, His great desire to be in a relationship with us exactly as we are.
Yes, Christmas is about more than tinsel and trees and Christmas lights. It is about remembering who God is and who we truly are in Him.
“The beauty of the Gospel touches our hearts, a beauty that is the splendor of truth. It astonishes us, again and again, that God makes himself a child… so that we may love him, so that we may dare to love him, and as a child trustingly lets himself be taken into our arms. It is as if God were saying: I know that my glory frightens you, so now I come to you as a child, so that you can accept me and love me.”
(Pope Benedict XVI, Christmas Homily, Midnight Mass, 2012)