After hearing the Christmas story over and over, year after year, its true meaning and impact may fade against the backdrop of today’s culture. Yet, if we think about it, God’s willingness to become one of us is the greatest acts of humility and love in all of human history. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” John 1:14
Here we have God, the Father, creator of all that exists, creator of the millions of galaxies and the billions of stars whose distance is measured in light years; this God who created the atom and the molecule whose size is measured in nanometers – that’s one billionth of a meter; this God who created the human person with a body, soul, and mind, became one of his created in order to free each of us from our sins and the world from its bondage to sin – to reconcile us to him and one another.
Father William Barry, in his book, A Friendship Like No Other, says, “God took humanity seriously enough to become one of us, and we do God no service if we downplay what God has done in becoming human.”
God in Jesus was a real human being, born of Mary in the humblest of circumstances in a cave or stable with animals nearby. He had to be toilet trained, learn a language and be raised from childhood to an adult just as we all have been. His family was forced into exile to Egypt to escape the sword of Herod. He evidently followed his earthly father, Joseph, in the trade of being a carpenter, for the people of Nazareth were later to ask, “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary?” (Mark 6:3)
After assuming his public ministry, the leaders of his own religion handed him over to the Romans to die a horrible death. God is no stranger to suffering. God in Jesus knows what human life is like from the inside. His desire for friendship, to dwell with us and in us knows no bounds.
A cobbler does not become a shoe, a cabinet maker does not become a cabinet, but God the Father and creator of all that exists became one of us. Little wonder that history’s calendar is measured in terms of before and after this event.
“For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the son of man, so that a son of man might in his turn become son of God.” (St. Augustine)
Let us celebrate the birth of Jesus for what it is – the greatest act of humility and love in all of history.