CHRISTMAS – GOD’S SHARING LOVE AS AN EMMANUEL & SAVIOR
We celebrate Christmas because it is the birthday of our God who became man and Savior to save us from our sins, a God who came to share His love with us and a God who came to live with us always as Emmanuel. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel– which means, ‘God with us.” Matthew1:22-23. He is the only person ever pre-announced among all the founders of religion. By reason we know that prophets had foretold about it and John the Baptist was the Precursor. History has split into two periods: one before His coming and the others after it. Every person born into this world came to live, but Christ came to die.
First of all,Christmas is the feast of God’s sharing a Savior with us.Jesus is the incarnation of God as man to save us from the bondage of sin. The greatest love story ever told is given by John in his gospel3: 16: “God so loved the world that he sent His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him may not die, but have eternal life. God sent His son into the world not to condemn the world but to redeem the world.” We celebrate that Incarnation today as goodnewsbecause we have a Divine Savior. As our Savior, Jesus liberated us from slavery to sin by His suffering, death and resurrection and atoned for our sins. Every Christmas reminds us that we still need this Savior to be reborn in our hearts and lives to free us from our evil addictions and unjust, impure and uncharitable tendencies.
Secondly, it is the feast of God’s sharing His love with us. Jesus as our Savior brought the “good news” that our God is a loving, forgiving, merciful and rewarding God who wants to save us through His Son Jesus and not a judging, cruel and punishing God. Jesus demonstrated by his life and teaching how God our heavenly father loves us, forgives us, and provides for us. It becomes more tangible as we experience the love and compassion of God for us. All his miracles were signs of this Divine Love. Jesus’ final demonstration of God’s love for us was his death on the cross and the institution of the Holy Eucharist. Christmas reminds us that sharing love with others is our Christian duty and that every time we do so, Jesus is reborn in our lives. Let us face this challenging question asked by Alexander Pope, “What does it profit me if Jesus is born in thousands of cribs all over the world and He is not born in my heart?” Let us allow Jesus to be reborn in our hearts and lives today and every day and radiate his light around us as sharing and selfless love, compassionate words and deeds, unconditional forgiveness, the spirit of humble service and of overflowing generosity.
Thirdly, Christmas is the feast of the Emmanuel, God living with us and within us.Christmas is the feast of the Emmanuel because God of the New Testament is a God-with-us,Emmanuel, who continues to live with us in all the events of our lives as announced by the angel to Mary. As Emmanuel, Jesus lives in the sacraments (especially in the Holy Eucharist), in the Holy Bible, in the praying community and in each believer, while His Holy Spirit transforms us into the “Temples of the Holy Spirit. Christmas reminds us that we are bearers of God with the missionary duty of conveying Jesus to others around us by loving others as Jesus did, through sacrificial, humble and committed service. Sharing with others, Jesus the Emmanuel living within us should be our best Christmas gift to others.
Experience Jesus the Emmanuel
The real meaning of Christmas is Emmanuel, God-with-us – God coming down to us; God accompanying us; God seeking us out; God revealing Himself to us; God bringing us forgiveness, healing, comfort, moral strength, guidance. Each one of us has, deep down in our souls, an incredible hunger: a hunger for purpose and meaning; a hunger to feel and celebrate the redeeming, forgiving, sustaining love of God; a hunger to be in the presence of God. Christmas is special because it reminds us concretely that God is indeed with us. In every circumstance of life, even when we are frightened or lonely or in sorrow, God is with us. So let’s go home to the heart of Christmas and embrace Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and made the Father known to usas the last line of our Gospel today says, No one has ever seen God, it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. John is saying the reason the Word became flesh was that we might get to know the Father. Jesus is the Father’s Word to us. Jesus is the revelation of God the Father. How do we get to know the Father? By getting to know Jesus. Jesus, the Word made flesh, is the way to the Father. If we want to know the Father, let us get to know Jesus. How do we get to know Jesus? It is the same way as we get to know anybody by spending time together. We spend time with Jesus when we pray to him and when we read the Gospels. So let us get to know Jesus who became flesh, through prayer and reading the Gospels, so that we might get to know the Father. We cannot say anymore it is too difficult to get to know God. He has revealed himself to us in his Son Jesus to show us that he really does care about us.
Imagine, Jesus, the Son of God and our Savior born in a stable and placed in a manger instead of in a cot! When God comes he usually comes in humility, silently and peacefully, without causing a great disturbance. God’s humble coming in Jesus would not surprise us if we knew God better. But of course we will never know God sufficiently to understand. So no matter how much we try to understand God becoming human in Jesus we will not be able to comprehend, it will remain a mystery. The best reaction is that of the shepherds, simply to praise God. Let us praise God now in our own words.
As we look on baby Jesus we think of the mystery of God’s love for us. Why did God who is almighty and all-powerful become small and powerless as a baby? Quite simply, out of love for us. God became human so that we might become more like God. Jesus if you had not come as a human like us, we might have had difficulty in believing that God really loved us. But now we know for sure. John the Evangelist says, “This is the revelation of God’s love for us, that God sent his only Son into the world that we might have life through him”. Let us thank God for revealing his love for us in Jesus, that he who is so big and powerful became so small and weak for us, that he became one of us, to help us be more like him, to have life through him.