One past president of the United States said that the day a man landed on the moon was the greatest event since Creation. It was a great event, a breakthrough in space exploration. But it can’t compare with the event we celebrate today – the Son of God landing on the earth. The church uses a quote from scripture to describe that moment. ‘When all things were in quiet silence and the night was in the midst of its course your Almighty Word leapt down from heaven, from your royal throne.’
Luke describes the Son of God landing on earth in the beautiful gospel we’ve just heard.
St. Paul describes Christ’s landing on the earth this way – Have this mind in you which was also in Christ. He did not consider being equal to God as something to be clung to, but he emptied himself to take to himself the condition of a slave and became as we are – and being as we all are he humbled himself even to accepting death on the cross. And because of this God has exalted him and given him a name that is above all other names so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend in heaven and earth and under the earth and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Today we celebrate the awesome truth Jesus became one of us – one like us in all things – though he did not sin. Jesus lived in troubled times as we do today – his homeland occupied by foreigners – a society troubled by political and religious unrest. He grew up in a nondescript home in Nazareth, his father Joseph taught him a trade and we can be sure that there were times when He who made the world was out of work.
Today we celebrate the awesome truth that Jesus is one of us – like us in all things. Jesus knows what it is like to be poor and homeless, he knows what it is like to have to flee one’s homeland for safety’s sake. He experienced the struggles of adolescence, the search for his own identity and the discovery of His life’s vocation – a vocation His parents did not understand. He knew what it was like to grieve the loss of someone he loved when Joseph died. Jesus knew He was to bear witness to the truth of God’s love for all of us – and He was faithful to that witness even to the point of dying. And in His death He gave witness to the truth that God loved the world so much He sent His Son to the world and He loved us so much He gave His life for us.
We all have our own problems and worries, our own joy and our own heartaches. If we think about it too much we can be over whelmed by the injustices, the senseless violence, and the personal tragedies that destroy good people’s lives that we hear about every day. There can be times when we get down on ourselves, we’re disappointed in ourselves; we’re discouraged by unfulfilled hopes and dreams, embarrassed by personal weakness. We can worry about financial and job security, we worry about family stability and well being.
This is why Christmas is such an important feast and celebration for all of us, it reminds us that Christ emptied Himself of divinity to take upon Himself our humanity – to become one like us – knowing and experiencing all our joys and all our pains. Christ walks with us as we live our lives – He knows how burdened we can be and offers us the wonderful invitation – ‘come to me all you who labor and find life burdensome and I will refresh you’.
We can continue our Christmas celebration giving thanks to Jesus Christ for becoming one of us, sharing our burdens, enjoying our joys and trusting His promise that He would be with us, supporting us, healing us, forgiving and loving us all through our lives. We can all go through life trusting the awesome truth of Emmanuel – God with us – God with us in joy and sorrow, but always God with us.