The soul’s worth

As we continue to celebrate Christmas, it may be a struggle to remember to keep our eyes on the true meaning of the feast.  It’s especially difficult when the world seems to return to “ordinary time” a little too quickly.  We have numerous Christmas specials and movies trying to tell us what Christmas is all about (though these seem to disappear off television as soon as Christmas actually arrives), but none of them get it as right as Linus does in A Charlie Brown Christmas, when he returns to the actual story in the Gospel of Luke.

Perhaps the best way to keep Christmas with us through the entire season is to daily return to Scripture and even beloved Christmas carols to ensure we don’t forget why we celebrate.

My current favorite line of a Christmas carol comes in O Holy Night:

Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

The soul felt its worth.  We were waiting, living in sin and error, in desperate need of a Savior.  And that night, when God breathed the midnight air of Bethlehem for the first time, the world realized that God would not leave them orphan.

It is nothing we deserve.  We are not worthy of even the earthly lives we live.  The air you breathe right now is nothing you earned.  Our earthly lives are complete gift.  God did not create us because he needed us or because he was lonely.  He created us in pure gift, out of complete and free love.  He gratuitously gives us this earthly life, completely unmerited.

If that was all he gave us, it would be more than we deserve.  But He wanted to give us even more.  He wanted to give us not just this earthly life, but also a divine life.  And yet we all know the story.  Adam and Eve rejected that in the Garden, and we reject it daily with our own sins.

That should be the end of the story.  If you gave someone a gift they did nothing to deserve and they threw it back in your face, what would be your reaction?

The birth of Jesus Christ reminds us that God’s love never rests. He did not create us to leave us in sin and error.  He is the hound of Heaven who follows us, begs us to come back, and remains our pursuing Lover.

As sinful as we may be, he thinks we are worth loving.

Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

When those shepherds knelt before the Christ child, the world saw that the story was not over.  Sin, error, longing, waiting… it had an answer.

We will never be worthy of the gifts God wants to give us. But we are not complete trash to be left on the side of the road to despair.  He doesn’t create trash.  We are created in His image and likeness, and he was not going to leave us in the darkness.

What Adam and Eve failed to do in the Garden, he would do for us on the Cross.  And it began in that manger.

We rejected his gift, but he came to give us the power to accept it once again.

“Again and again it astonishes us 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, and that you are trying to assert yourself in the face of my grandeur. So now I am coming to you as a child, so that you can accept me and love me.” (Pope Benedict, Midnight Mass, 2012)

How will I live today?  As we begin this new year, will I live it as someone who is worthy of God becoming man?  Or will I live it as someone who is still living in the darkness of sin?  He thinks I am worthy of his gift. Do I act like it?

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About the Author

Joannie Watson

Joan Watson was born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana, but college and graduate school took her to Virginia, Ohio, and Rome. After graduating from Christendom College with a B.A. in History and Franciscan University with a M.A. in Theology, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to be part of the explosion of Catholic culture in the middle of the Bible Belt.

She has been blessed to work for Dr. Scott Hahn at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia at Aquinas College, and the Diocese of Nashville. She is currently a full-time Catholic speaker and writer. She also serves as the Associate Editor of Integrated Catholic Life.

When she’s not testing the culinary exploits of new restaurants or catching up on the latest BBC miniseries, she’s FaceTiming with her nine nephews and nieces and enjoying her role as coolest aunt. She likes gelato, bourbon, and the color orange.

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