In the second Harry Potter novel entitled, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” Harry becomes concerned about the fact that he is beginning to recognize similarities between himself and Lord Voldemort, the villain of the series. He seeks the counsel of the headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, who tells him to remember that we are not judged by our talents or abilities. We are judged by our choices. It matters not that Harry's talents resemble the dark lord's; what matters is that Harry has chosen not to be associated with him.
Making choices is an important part of our human life. Sometimes the choices we make are for good while we all have to admit that from time to time we choose that which is selfish or even wrong.
Tonight we celebrate the most important choice that was ever made. God chose to become one of us. This choice was preceded by another. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God’s commandment not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Their disobedience led to their expulsion from the Garden. They lost access to God. No longer was Adam able to walk in the garden enjoying the evening breezes with his Creator. However, God chose to set in motion a plan that would take four thousand years to unfold and would culminate in the invisible God of Creation becoming a human being.
Because Adam’s sin brought about God’s decision to become human, St. Thomas Aquinas refers to his sin as a “happy fault” which brings forth so great a redeemer. However, Franciscan theologians, in particular St. Bonaventure, disagree with St. Thomas. St. Bonaventure wrote that God’s choice to become one with us was not caused by Adam’s sin. Rather he believed that God would have chosen to become human simply because God loved us so much that becoming one of us was an irresistible desire on God’s part.
No matter which way you view the issue, the fact of the matter is that God’s choice was the single most important event in all of human history. The birth of Jesus changed the world in ways that still astound us. He taught twelve men the Gospel of Love and demonstrated what that love looks like. Then he sent those twelve to the furthest edges of our planet to preach that Gospel.
There are many who will tell us that the Gospel message is being drowned out by the evil choices that men and woman are making in today’s world. However, any student of human history will readily understand that the choices made in our world today are no more evil than the choices that have been made throughout our history. Careful reading of human history will also tell us that whenever great evil has threatened civilization, some great man or woman has stepped forward to defeat that evil. Great wars have been fought, but good men have conquered the evil that began them. Great scandals have been perpetrated even by those who profess to be God’s ministers, but good men and women have endeavored to expunge the scandal from our society and to heal the breach. Even as some agents in society are threatening the very existence of our planet, brave men and women are moving us toward an understanding of the limited nature of our resources and moving us to restore and recycle. Those who would demean human life and have us believe that some lives are disposable are being met by others who hold up the dignity of human life and fight for an end to a culture of death.
God chose to become one of us. When there is a quiet moment in the days between now and the beginning of our New Year, stop and repeat these words to yourself. God chose to become one of us. Perhaps that choice will help you to make a few choices that need to be made in your lives. All of us will one day be judged by our choices, not by our talents, not by our accomplishments, not by our wealth or status. Just as Harry Potter chose to stand against the evil of the Dark Lord Voldemort, we can also choose to stand against the evil of our own time and circumstances. A new year of such choices would be wonderful indeed.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator