24 December 2013


Solemnity of the Lord’s Birth
Jn 1:1-18 (Is 52:7-10 / Slm 97 / Heb 1:1-6)

We know the Christmas story.  Generations to generations, we recall the astonishing entrance that God made into our broken world, and we are moved by God’s capacity to surprise us with love.  Something new had happened; something original and fresh had been made manifest; nothing would ever be quite the same again.  God chose to break the silence of ages.  He gave Himself away in a Word. The most important Word that God has ever spoken took flesh in the womb of a young maiden, and was born as a fragile bundle of joy and new life.

The unfathomable mystery of God was suddenly concentrated in a child.  God chose to visit His people – no longer through the dreams and words of the prophets, but in human flesh.  God, who once lived only in the highest heavens, decided to have another address: He pitched His tent among us!

The Christmas story is the same each year, but we change.  Our world evolves and our memories grow.  Our faith is challenged, our hope is tested, and our love is called on in new ways.  But no matter what changes we undergo and what losses we mourn or gains we celebrate, the Christmas story speaks to us again and again of a new birth.

And the Christmas story tells us of the possibility of our own rebirth!  It convinces us that things can be different; it gives substance to our hope that new life is possible because of the birth of the Son of God.

Things can be different and our hope can have substance if we welcome Jesus in our hearts.  Instead of saying, “There is no more room in the inn”, let us tell Jesus, “There may be no more room in the inn, but come, I will fix and clean the inn and make room for Thee, dear Jesus.”  Instead of driving Him away from our “inn”, let us give Him the whole “inn”.  Instead of merely welcoming Him, let us throw our selves like little children into His loving embrace.  Christmas is not us giving gifts to Jesus; it is, first of all, Jesus giving Himself to us.  Things can be different and our hope can have substance if we only truly receive such a priceless and unconditional Gift.

The birth of every child is a small protest against the tired view that there is nothing new under the sun, that we are condemned to a future that only repeats the stupidities of the past.  And the birth of Jesus is God’s protest against letting things be, abandoning people to their own devices, leaving people to fall back on the poverty of their own resources.  Jesus is the help of God among us.  His name means “God saves”.  He is Emmanuel, “God with us”.  Jesus is the one Word on God’s telegram of hope.

Beyond the nostalgia that Christmas often brings, beyond the lovely sight of the crèche, beyond the humble birth of Mary’s Child is a cry of protest from heaven. The baby cry heard from that manger in Bethlehem is God’s cry. It is a cry of the Almighty that breaks the heart of every man and woman. God comes to us as a helpless infant to share in our humanity so that we may come to share in His divinity.

St. Augustine said it so well: “Since God became human, we can be sure that in everything human we can find something of the divine.”  Holding on to this truth gives us the reason to hope in the midst of evil, to believe in the goodwill even of the enemy, to trust that someday things will be better, to be healed from the mistakes and hurts of the past, to love even when it aches, to serve even when misunderstood, to persevere even when ridiculed, to be grateful even to the ungrateful, to reach out even to the unwilling, to forgive even the unforgivable, to be the best we can be even with the worst we have been, to be another Jesus.

May the beautiful Christmas carols and the noise of merry-making not drown the silent cry from above.  God protests.  Heaven opens.  Jesus is born.  God makes all things new.  The world is renewed.  History is changed.  Humanity is unimaginably exalted.  You and I will never be the same again.  “Every time I hear a new born baby cry or touch a leaf or see the sky, then I know why I believe.”

I believe because God believes in me.  He believes in me so much so that He entrusted His only Son to me as a helpless, feeble Baby.  He believes in me even when I refuse to believe in Him.  He believes in me even when don’t believe in others. He believes in me even when I find it so difficult to believe in my self.  God simply believes in me.  And because God believes in me, I unlearn disbelieving in Him, in others, and in my self as well.

Hope is the message of Christmas.  Protest is the cry of Christmas.  Belief is the challenge of Christmas.  May we have that hope.  May we hear that protest.  May we believe.

We are worth Christmas.  God says so!  We are worth Jesus, the Son of God and Mary.  God says so!  We are worth loving more than we know.  God says so!  A one-word telegram God sens us today.  It reads "Jesus".  And it does say everything we all need to know.


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