Christmas – December 2006

A Child is born in the poverty of Bethlehem.  But that child wrapped in swaddling clothes and held in the embrace of his loving mother, is the Most High God, the Word become Flesh, our flesh.  He humbled himself sharing our humanity so that we might share in his divinity.  This is the Mystery celebrated on that Holy Night, that Silent Night when God became one of us – so that we can be with him, and become like him.

This Mystery is not only a long past event but also a present reality. At every Mass during the preparation of the gifts, the priest or deacon pours wine into the chalice and then adds a drop of water.  As he does so, he prays silently:  By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.

Pope Benedict said last year in his first Christmas as Pope: “(Jesus’) way of showing that he is God challenges our way of being human.  By knocking on our door, he challenges us and our freedom; he calls us to examine how we understand and live our lives.

Christ is the Light of the World.  Without that light, we cannot understand God and his loving plan for us; nor can we truly understand ourselves, who we are, why we are.  The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council insisted:  “It is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh, that the Mystery of humanity truly becomes clear”. (Gaudium et Spes #22)

Today’s world needs that light more than ever – because without that light we do not know how to live, we do not know how to be human.  Without that light, we can become like the character Scrooge in Dickens’s famous novel, who thinks the value and worth of people is measured by what they have and not for who they are, creatures made in the image and likeness of God.  Without that light, we can become like Herod who believed like so many of this world’s kings and rulers still believe today, that might makes right.  He massacred the Holy Innocents in a vain effort to advance his self interests.  Without that light of Christ people today trample on the rights of the vulnerable, the weak, the poor sacrificing them on the altars of expedience, on the altars of their own self-indulgence.  Without that light of Christ, that of the same Christ Child who in his mother’s arms and under the protection of his foster father Joseph crossed into Egypt as a faceless, and undocumented, refugee, we will not see the other in need as a brother or sister but only as an alien threat.

Shepherds come and worship, the Magi too offer their gifts and adore him.  These guests around the Crib represent all humanity, the poor and the rich, the simple and the wise. We too are invited to approach the Child who awaits us in the manger.  His hands are stretched forth, reaching out to each one of us. He reaches out not to take anything from us but to give to us.  Christ reaches out to embrace us all and to bathe us in his light:  he becomes one of us, sharing in our humanity that we might share in his divinity. To believe in him we lose nothing that is truly human; on the contrary, we gain everything.