December 25, 2017 – God is with us

The Nativity of the Lord – During the Day

Readings – English

Featured image found here.

No tenía que predicar esto en español, así que no hay traducción al español. Lo siento.

 

English

God created all things and all people, meaning that all people can come to know God, even if imperfectly. We can see this in non-Christian cultures. In the pre-Colombian Native Americans and the European pagans, we see a knowledge of God through observation of the created world and awe before natural wonder. In the myths of the Hindus and the ways of the Buddhists, we see a knowledge of God through deep introspection and careful study of human desires. In the Greeks and the Confucians, we see knowledge of God through philosophy and politics. Some, like the Greeks, even began to realize that the true God was not a force of nature, but a force beyond nature, underlying existence itself. Each of these civilizations glimpsed God, but all did so imperfectly. After all, realizing the existence of an intelligent creator is straightforward enough, but to know that this creator cares about humanity and wants to enter into a deep and abiding relationship with humanity – this is a much harder concept, one that is not obvious.

This is why God raised up the Jews. He took a people, lowly and insignificant, and began to reveal himself to them through signs and salvation, prophecy and power. God walked with the Jews and the Jews walked with him. God gave them the law as a way to teach them holiness and fidelity. God gave them a nation to show forth his glory through them. We should not overlook how amazing this is! God actually spoke to these people. He defeated their enemies in battle. God told them directly what he desired from them in their lives and in their society. This is incredible, that the God who created the universe would take such a loving and direct interest in a small, desert people.

But even the Jews, who know God so intimately, glimpsed him imperfectly. They began to focus on the law itself, rather than the purpose of the law which was holiness. They began to focus on the nation itself, rather than the purpose of the nation which was to bring all people to the one, true God.

And so God took another, unbelievable, extraordinary step, a step he was probably planning all along, but a step which the imperfect religions of humanity showed was especially necessary.

Listen to the Letter to the Hebrews: “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son.”

A son! Can you believe it? And not just some two-bit knockoff, but a son “through whom he created the universe, who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word.” In other words, God himself, the Word that existed before time began.

Humanity could never have imagined in a million lifetimes that God himself, the creator of the universe, would become a human being and speak to us directly. Not through nature, not through our hearts, not through philosophy, and not even through prophets. God himself, using his own words, speaking human language, living a human life. God himself has become one of us. <Long pause.>

—-

My friends, let the awe of that original Christmas message wash over you. Hear and understand that, beyond the presents and festivities and even the feelings of good will and joy, there is the fact that God, the creator of the universe, loves you so much that he allowed himself to become a child in a cave in Bethlehem. The Word through whom all things were made chose to bring his light into the world through a young Palestinian girl and her loyal spouse.

I hope this message never grows old for us. I hope we never become numb to how unexpected and impossible an idea this. God-made-man, come down from heaven, fully God and fully human.

Whenever you feel alone, remember that God left heaven for you. Whenever you feel like no one understands, remember that God lived as a human being, too, with all the same heartbreaks and struggles. Whenever you feel like giving up, imagine the Holy Family looking for an inn or having to escape Herod. Whenever you are angry, or feel like forgiveness is impossible, remember that “the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.”

If you ever wonder how God can be with us, it is because the Word was made flesh. Jesus was us. Jesus is us. God is not a million light years away in some distant heaven. God comforts his people in perfect solidarity with them in their humanity. God is here.

Merry Christmas.

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