Jesus Christ is born! With the birth of the Savior, God has burst into the darkness of humanity as a light, to lead all people home to him. He has entered physically, in bodily form, into his creation. God has come as a helpless newborn baby to be seen, embraced and adored.
In the beginning, with a word, God had spoken creation into being (cf. Gen 1). Now in this final age, the Word himself, who was in God’s presence from the beginning, the Word who is God, has come among us men as a man. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we have seen his glory: the glory of an only Son coming from the Father, filled with enduring love.”
Before this day, the world had been in a shadowland. For many generations, God had made himself known “in fragmentary and varied ways to our fathers through the prophets.” The Old Covenant – a covenant of God’s faithful love for men – was often misunderstood as legalistic and unmerciful. Although God was forgiving, he was viewed by many as distant from the people whom he had created in his likeness. Righteousness under the law seemed like an impersonal demand.
The Son is the light, “the real light which gives light to every man.” He is the light of the truth of God’s merciful love. He has come among us to show us the face of the Father. Jesus is the perfect revelation of the Father. Now we can look on the face of God and live!
He has come in lowly form, and the lowly rejoice at his coming. The light has shone into the darkness of hopelessness and despair bringing freedom to the human spirit. He entered at one moment into time, and now he is incarnate with us, for us, and in us for all time.
As a consequence of the original fall, we lose sight of the light of God with us. We long for his acceptance, his loving embrace, but like the prodigal son, we know that we are not worthy to be his sons and daughters. In our guilt, we tend to hold ourselves accountable to a different standard than the mercy of God. Because we feel some need to prove ourselves to him, we look upon God reluctantly, with lingering fear of judgment. We tend to see him not only as totally other but as distant from us. In some ways, we prefer to have him at a distance so that we may feel free to do as we please; we call on him only in time of need. Even our prayers can become dry rituals, a kind of wall we hide behind so that God does not get too close to us.
But on Christmas Day we celebrate that God has come close to us. He has broken into our darkness as light. He comes – the final culmination of divine revelation – in the disarming guise of a newborn infant. How can we be distant from a God who has come so far to meet us?
Pope Benedict XVI asks, “Why did he do it?” Our first response might be that “we didn’t get it!” We did not yet know him. Under the Old Covenant, we struggled to see him for who he is. Yes, Moses saw him face to face, but the rest of us remained in a lingering uncertainty. “To his own he came, yet his own did not accept him.” No matter how many prophets we heard, doubts and fears continued to arise.
God who is Love came to reveal Love. Love reveals itself; opens itself; gives itself. He wanted to show us who he really is. He wanted to reveal to us the depth of his merciful love, to dispel the darkness of doubt and restore us to intimacy with him. The God who is purity and order wanted to enter into the very messiness and chaos of our lives. He came to restore in us the hope of becoming like him so that we could be with him forever. He came as light so that we might become light for a world which so desperately needs his light. When we see him in the manger, we are irradiated, transformed by his light, to become his light to the world.
This mystery unfolds in the maternal presence of Mary. As she kneels by the crib, she ponders the miracle of birth, but is not yet aware that she will become the spiritual mother of many others, as Mother of the Church. In the embrace of the Church our Mother, we encounter the amazing reality of Emmanuel, God with us. In the silence of our hearts, as we gaze on him, together with Mary, let us welcome him and gratefully adore our Savior, Christ the Lord.
When do I lose sight of the presence of Jesus? In what ways do I try to prove myself to the Lord? Do I see Mary as my spiritual mother who leads me to Jesus?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 13, no. 1. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.