Christmas Day 2015
Thursday, Dec. 25, 2015
When we gather to celebrate Christmas, we are not celebrating Jesus being born. True, we listen to the Gospel story of Jesus’ birth, but we are not re-enacting his birth. We are celebrating his birthday.
When we celebrate a birthday, we remember the birth of the individual. We might recall some of the details, and we give thanks for the gift of life, but we do much more than that. We celebrate who that person is today. And so it is with the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
Let’s look at the person we celebrate today. First of all, who is Jesus? St. John reminds us that Jesus “the Word became flesh”. Jesus is the Word of God, Jesus is God. The early Church Fathers (the Cappadocian Fathers) said that in the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, creation was finally completed, since from the beginning of creation God desired to be one of us, yearned to be human. At creation, God created humans and breathed life into them, created them in God’s image and likeness, so from the beginning we shared God’s life and being.
When we look into a mirror, we see something of God reflected back to us. However, God was not one of us, did not share in our life and being. Now, in the birth of Jesus, God does share in our life and being. Now God truly becomes one of us and now when God looks into a mirror, God sees something of us reflected back.
In becoming human, Jesus not only dwells within us, be he enters into a relationship with us in a new and profound way as friend and companion. In becoming human, he enters into relationship with us in a new and intimate way as friend and companion, sharing our laughter, tears, love and suffering. He walks with us in every moment of our lives. He comes in love, not judgment, and embraces us in the brokenness of our human condition, comforting, healing, guiding and forgiving.
In his humanity, Jesus shows us how we are to live, love and serve one another. This Jesus, who walked the earth and ministered to others, who walks with us today, is the one we celebrate when we gather for the Feast of Christmas. We celebrate what he teaches us and where he leads us each day. We look to the Scriptures to help us know more deeply who this person is whose birthday we celebrate in order that we can more deeply appreciate the gift that he is to us and to all humanity. This Jesus, who had no place to be born because there was no room in the inn went on to show us that there is more than enough room in the heart of God for all people, that God’s heart is filled with compassion, mercy and love for all. Ultimately, during his lifetime on earth, the only place where there was room for Jesus was on the cross. He sought entry into the over-crowded hearts of people and was rejected. Does he find a place in our hearts today, or does the rejection go on? Jesus teaches us in many ways that what we do to others we do to him. Are our hearts open to welcome him in the poor, the lonely, the hungry, the sick we encounter each day? Are our hearts conditioned in such a way that they reflect God’s heart in our world?