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Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas - babies and God

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Christmas is a wonderful gift from God.  It is a gift that reminds us every year to never forget what is the greatest Gift of all: the Lord Jesus.  This gift of Christmas points us towards Easter, for the most important thing about Jesus is at the end of his earthly life and the beginning of his return to eternal life: His paschal mystery that sets us free from sin and death.  Anything else about Jesus means nothing if it doesn't connect to that one truth of the Good News.
          Now for today's mystery, we are led to behold how God chose to save us, how he chose to come among us.  With quiet wonders, with whispers in the night, we join the shepherds who were told the secret.  With them we are astounded to see an army of angels singing "Glory to God in the highest!" while they announce that God is present among us in the lowest, simplest, humble-est.  God comes in secret, in quiet.  God chose to save us by sending His Son to us, by taking our human nature to Himself, by becoming a little baby inside Mary's womb, and then born among us today.
          What does this teach us about God?  What is He trying to show us?
          So, let's think about this for a minute.  Now I've been blessed to have a big family and three of my siblings have had children.  My oldest brother and his wife had their first child just four months ago: Phoenix.  I met her about a few weeks after she was born and I get to keep up with her a lot through my phone - that's right, Snapchat is great for families, folks.  I love seeing my nieces and nephews.  Now This girl, Phoenix, has been so fun to watch as she grows and learns how to control her hands and arms.  So, what are some basic things about babies?
1. Babies are irresistible, and we often even call them adorable.  When you look at a baby you often are filled with wonder, with amazement, especially when they are looking back at you!
2. Babies are harmless.  Seriously, could you ever be afraid of a baby?  Babies can't hurt anyone or anything, except maybe themselves.  Is that why we often talk to babies in such silly ways?  We aren't ashamed of ourselves in front of them.
3. Babies are needy,  What happens if you leave a baby alone for too long?  They start crying.  They want something, whether it's their diaper changed or food or they're too hot or they're too cold, or they're uncomfortable, or maybe they're just too comfortable and that scares them - they just cry for no reason sometimes!  Babies need parents and other people to help them.
          These three things tell us a bit about why God became a baby.
1. God wants us to draw close to Him.  He wants us to approach Him and be with Him.  He doesn’t want us to be afraid, but wants to invite us into a relationship.
2. God wants us to trust Him completely.  He's not out to harm us, and He doesn't want us to be ashamed of ourselves in front of Him.  He looks upon us with eyes that continually wonder anew at us, with a pure love that takes away our pain and heals us.  Why should we ever be afraid of our God who loves us this much?
3. In a certain way, God needs us.  He loves us so much that He has no alternative.  He has chosen to live only with us, no matter what the cost, even if it means the Cross.  He needs you to carry Him, to hold Him, to sing to Him with your life and your love.
          There's one other point about Christmas that I think is very important: God didn't become a baby in a royal palace or in an important place, even though he deserved far better than the entire world could ever offer Him.  He didn't have a huge fanfare of noisy celebration at his birth.  Only three wise men and shepherds were able to hear the secret.  Instead, God decided to come in a humble, lowly, poor stable, with shepherds around Him so that we can remember that God wants us all to be close to Him.  We don't need to be special in the eyes of the world to get close to Jesus.  The only thing God wants from us is our love and our lives, and that is something we all are able to give.
          Finally, the manger is here year-round.  This tabernacle is Jesus's manger until the end of time.  It is here that we simple, humble, lowly people, like the shepherds of Bethlehem, get to draw close to God, to look with wonder at the face of Infinite Love that heals us and transforms us.  It is here that God wants you to be close to Him.
          Are you afraid of babies?  Of course not.  At Christmas, God is telling us, "don't be afraid of me.  Come close.  I want only you."

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