Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap
It is important to revisit once more the saving meaning of Christmas. Many are the sermons, thoughts and speeches that speak about Christmas. The truth is that they are so many that we risk being drifted away from the essential point of Christ’s nativity.
In that singular and special event, something really unique did actually happen. It was something that changed the entire course of our human history. Something that is strong enough that, even up to this very day, is making the honest truth searcher start looking at him/herself in a new way. Provided that s/he really opens his/her heart for the surprises truth presents itself with.
The joyful novelty regarding Christmas is not about man seeking God.On the contrary, Christmas is all about God seeking man.
After the tragedy of man’s fall, God started progressively yet steadily revealing that he would send the Messiah to redeem humanity. The Messiah would be the seed/offspring of a woman and would crush the head of Satan (Genesis 3:15). He would come from the seed/offspring of Abraham and would bless all the nations on earth (Genesis 12:3). He would be a “prophet like Moses” to whom God said we must listen (Deuteronomy 18:15). He would be born in Bethlehem of Judah (Micah 5:2). He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). He would have a throne, a kingdom and a dynasty, or house, starting with King David, that will last forever (2 Samuel 7:16). He would be called “Wonderful Counsellor”, “Mighty God”, “Everlasting Father”, “Prince of Peace” and would possess an everlasting kingdom (Isaiah 9:6-7).
He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, righteous and having salvation, coming with gentleness (Zechariah 9:9-10). He would be pierced for our transgression and crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). He would die among the wicked ones but be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9). He would be resurrected from the grave, for God would not allow His Holy One to suffer decay (Psalm 16:10). He would come again from the clouds of heaven as the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13-14). He would be the “Sun of Righteousness” for all who revere Him and look for His coming again (Malachi 4:2).
The definite moment for God’s loving selfless interest in saving us came when the Word (Jesus Christ) “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
Yes, Christmas jubilantly proclaims a God who bothered coming down from heaven to save fallen humanity. A God who shared our human frail condition to free us from the bondage of evil we were living in and making us God’s children.
God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ is an excellent example of mercy. And mercy in abundance.
In the second of the Christmas Office of Readings, we find those immortalised words coming from the heart of an ardent defender of the true divinity and humanity of the one Christ against the trendy heretical one-sidedness: “Beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, because in his great love for us he took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins he brought us to life with Christ so that in him we might be a new creation.”
In Jesus Christ, God bothered to approach us. To live among us. To suffer with us. To empathise with us.
In last year’s homily of the solemnity of Our Lord’s nativity Mass, Pope Francis beautifully explained a God who bothers to find us:
“How do we welcome the tenderness of God?
Do I allow myself to be taken up by God, to be embraced by him, or do I prevent Him from drawing close? But I am searching for the Lord, we could respond. Nevertheless, what is most important is not seeking Him but, rather, allowing Him to seek me, find me and caress me with tenderness.
The question put to us simply by the Infant’s presence is: do I allow God to love me?” If I do shall I not bother to serve Him in the suffering and the needy?