January 2020 Faith Community Reflection

Brought to My Knees

Fr Michael Dolman

In the run up to Christmas, I had the opportunity to visit the West End of London with its festive lights and beautiful shop window displays. In these shops the prices suggested that one was buying only the very best of things. There was one shop window display that particularly caught my attention: the manikin (an appropriately well-dressed figure) had a selection of wrapped presents on his back and, to my Catholic eyes, appeared to be genuflecting before a pile of well wrapped gifts. How strange!

The idiom, ‘to be brought to my knees’ came to mind – in two senses. Most obviously, we might think of the busyness of ‘winning at life’: the stress of my work, my worries and burdens, the tensions in some of my relationships, the list goes on. On the other-hand we might think of being brought to our knees in awe and wonder, in humility and adoration. 

These are two very different experiences. The first is accompanied by tiredness, emptiness and oppression. The second is characterised by freedom and love. 

So often in life we are seeking validation, fulfilment, completion and happiness and we spend so much time and energy (and money!) searching for these in limited material ways: promoting my reputation and success, attending excessively to my appearance and possessions, being overly preoccupied with my health and wealth. We become like the manikin, weighed down in pursuit of temporary things that never completely satisfy the human heart. We are brought to our knees, keeping up with the Jones’s.

During this Christmas season, we are brought to our knees with wonder at the Christ Child. We acknowledge this little one to be Almighty God - with us: Emmanuel. God is love (1 John 4:8) and we know from experience that when you love someone, you want to be physically near to them. In the fulness of time, God takes on our humanity and becomes utterly vulnerable in our midst, so that he might be close to us. In the presence of such a sight, it is easy to be forgetful of who this really is, forgetful of the truth that makes this child truly adorable.  

Here is the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15): the perfect blueprint upon which our human nature is fashioned. Here is the very wisdom of God, the intelligence through whom the material creation is ordered. Here is the Word of God, through whom all things, ourselves and all of creation, have being. 

And so, in freedom, humility and love I am brought to my knees. Here is the one in whom our humanity finds completion and in whom I find fulfilment. Here on my knees, in my friendship with Jesus, I discover the meaning and purpose of my life and the grace to live that life with freedom, generosity and enthusiasm.