December 25, 2011 – Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
We all know the story of Christmas. Mary and Joseph had traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to take part in a census. When they arrived, there was no room at the inn, so the couple stayed in the stable with the animals. Then, it came time for Mary to give birth to Jesus. She gave birth to him in the stable, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger.
But the story of Christmas is much more than that. It isn’t just the story of how one young couple gave birth to their baby amidst the barn animals. It is the story of how the Lord sent a Savior into the world. It is the story of how God became man and dwelt among us on the earth. That is the mystery we celebrate today. That is what gives Christmas its meaning. That is what we ought to reflect upon as we carry out our Christmas celebrations.
Throughout the Advent season, we focused much of our attention on the Jews who were awaiting a savior. We heard many prophecies foretell of the Savior’s coming. The Lord promised, and the Jews were hopeful. But no one would have guessed that the Lord would send the Savior in this way, that He, the Lord of the entire universe, would become one of His creatures in order to save the human race. Yet that’s exactly what happened. That is exactly what we celebrate this Christmas day – God became man because He loved us so much.
God created the world out of love. He created man in His image and likeness, because, in love, He wanted to give of Himself. So, man was created in harmony with God, destined for a life of love with Him. Then, man chose to turn his back on God, to choose his own will over God’s will, and, in that, commit the original sin, thereby breaking the harmony man once enjoyed with his creator.
This relationship needed to be restored, and God was the only one who could restore it.
And so, He came down from heaven and became a man so that He could suffer and die for our sins.
Sure, we don’t want to focus on the sins of humanity on this joyous Christmas day, but we cannot talk about the mystery of the incarnation without recognizing our need for a Savior. The fact is, on that Christmas day so many years ago, the Lord sent the Savior that He had promised, the one whom the Jews had long-awaited, the one who was to repair humanity’s broken relationship with the Lord. But He did not just send a Savior. He sent His only Son to be the Savior, and He did so in such an extraordinary way that He far surpassed the Jews expectations. Even today, knowing that the Lord sent His Son into the world to save us from the bonds of sin and death, knowing that the Lord Himself became one of us in order to save us, it is hard for us to wrap our heads around the reality of that mystery.
Yes, indeed, on that first Christmas day, when Mary and Joseph welcomed that sweet little baby into the world, they welcomed the Lord. Can you even imagine, holding your baby and knowing that it is, in fact, your Lord and your God?
Yes, that is what we celebrate this Christmas day – a God who loves us so much that He humbled Himself to take on our humanity. He who is the Lord of all became one of His mere human creatures simply because He loves us so much that He wants us to know the joy of eternal glory and He knew that He was the only one who could make that possible.
Now, that’s love! That’s a mystery worth a grand celebration.
And so, as we spend time with family and friends, as we open gifts and thank the gift-givers for the many things we are bound to receive today, let’s be sure to spend time thanking God for the gift of His Son and for the salvation that His Son, who humbly became a man, has made possible for us.
We are forever indebted to him!