Jesus Christ is born! With the birth of the Savior, God has burst into the darkness of our human condition 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 these last days,” the Word himself, who was with God 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 saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”
Before this day, the world had been a shadowland. For many generations, God had made himself known “in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets.” The Old Covenant – a covenant of God’s faithful love for men – was often misunderstood as legalistic and unmerciful. Righteousness under the law seemed like a heavy and impersonal demand. Although God was merciful, we did not yet know him, and 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 about God’s presence and goodness to the people he had created in his own likeness. “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.” No matter how many prophets we heard, doubts and fears continued to arise.
The Son is the light, “the true light, which enlightens every-one.” 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 still easily 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 treated as his sons and daughters. In our guilt and shame, 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 a fear of judgment. We tend to see him not only as totally other but as distant from us. In some ways, we even 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 with joy that God has come close to us. He has broken into our darkness as light. He comes – the 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? Who can feel threatened by a tiny baby?
God who is Love has come to reveal Love. Love reveals itself, opens itself, gives itself. He wants to show us who he really is. He wants 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 enters into the very messiness and chaos of our lives, to give us “power to become children of God.” He comes to restore in us the hope of becoming like him so that we can be with him forever. He comes as light so that we may 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.
What are my inner thoughts as I ponder the birth of the Son of God lying in a manger? As I kneel before the crib of Jesus, how can I strive to be more humble and childlike? Why do I choose the darkness of hopelessness and not Jesus the “true light” who enlightens me?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 19, no. 1. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.