This night is filled with magic. Mary gives birth to Jesus and the heavens are filled with songs of peace and good will. Startled shepherds are called to see the new born king of the Jews. We never grow tired of hearing Luke’s gospel of tidings of great joys for all people. We never grow tired of hearing the good news that a savior is born for us – Christ the Lord.
But this is the beginning of a long story, a story that will end in a garden and in that garden there will be an empty tomb.
Looking beyond the stable and Bethlehem we know…
The day will come when this infant’s eyes will one day look into the hearts and lives of good men and women and see their struggle with life’s challenges and life’s injustices, their struggles to make sense of their faith in God. Seeing their struggles, their pain and confusion, Jesus would promise, ‘I am with you always. These words are as true today as they were then,”I am with you always.’
This infant’s feet would one day walk from one Galilean town to the next so that Jesus could tell people that God their Father loves them and wants to be close to them. This infant’s feet would carry him to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem Jesus would challenge to rigidity and the legalism of the religious leaders telling them that mercy is more important than judgement and the law of love is the most important of all laws. This infant’s feet would walk the way through Jerusalem’s street to Calvary and be nailed to the cross.
This infant’s cry would one day cry out to men and women telling them of God’s great love for them. This infant’s cry would one day call out these inviting words, ‘come to me all you who find life burdensome and I will refresh you. This infant’s cry would one day speak these healing words – your sins are forgiven, go your way and sin no more. This infant’s cry would one day say these life changing words – receive your sight, speak, hear, be made clean, and pick up your stretcher and walk. This infant’s voice would one day offer us a life changing challenge, ‘love one another as I have loved you’. This infant’s voice would one day say the words we repeat and every Mass, this is my body, take and eat, this is my blood, take and drink. This infants last words would be ‘Father into your hands I commend my spirit.
This infant’s hands would stretch out and touch and heal and lift up the fallen and the broken hearted. And he would do this until that sad day when brutal men would nail his hands to the cross.
The day we were born was the beginning of our own life’s adventure. We all know the ups and downs, the successes and the failures of our adventure. This Christmas we remember the beginnings of the life adventure of Jesus, Son of God, and son of Mary. We know how Jesus lived his life and died. It was out of love for you, for me. Looking into our own lives can we say we are doing the same for him? Are we living our lives for him as he lived his life for us? Do we, like Jesus accept and respect every person who comes into our lives regardless of the racial background, their religious belief, their life style? Most of all are we trying to live the great commandment, ‘love one another as I have loved you?
On this feast God our Father gave us his son Jesus the Christ as his gift to us. May our gift to the Father be our efforts to live our lives in faithful imitation of the life of Christ.