The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

In Sunday’s reflection, we considered how God seeks to “tame” us, and how we desire to be tamed. God’s relationship with his people as he prepares them for the coming of his Son seems much as the fox from The Little Prince describes taming: “First you will sit down at a little distance from me—like that—in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing […] you will sit a little closer to me, every day.” Today the Lord has come so close that he is one of us, but will we notice?

A few people have the privilege of having “the Angel of the Lord” tell them of the good news: “the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.” The one clothed in God’s glory announces to them the birth of the Savior “who is Christ and Lord,” saying, “this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” So we heard last night in Midnight Mass. At the Mass at Dawn this morning, we encounter the shepherds—who are perhaps relieved now that the angels have left them—saying in a joyful afterglow: “Let us go to see this thing that the Lord has made known to us.” For if the glory of God shines so in the multitude of the heavenly host praising God, how much more brightly it must shine in the sign that has been promised!

What a strange sign the shepherds discover, though. An infant lying in a manger, yes, but not clothed with anything that would resemble the glory of the angels. Instead, he is cared for by two migrant parents who, having been turned away time and again in the town God has appointed to receive them, have instead been given a welcome fit for mere animals (at least the animals keep the child warm!). No, wait, that can’t be right?! Surely the Lord of awesome power, who conquers with his strong arm, who casts down the mighty from their thrones and lifts up the lowly, surely this God can cast down some mighty one and lift up this lowly child up to the throne of David. Ah, but he has. Th sign fits. The proud have been scattered in their conceit, for the glory of God shines in the darkness that envelops this child, it shines through the newborn that society has no place for. The glory of God is this man, this baby, who is fully alive, who is life itself. A multitude announces him today, even today, but we have gotten so caught up in the announcement—which we have festooned with our own glory—that we can no longer recognize the glory that is His.

Your God sits a little closer to you today. He awaits your love and care, away from all the distractions that purport to announce his coming but do not know who or where he is. He has left all things behind to join you. Will you leave all things behind to join him?

December 25th, 2015