God’s sign is the baby in need of help and in poverty, exactly the same sign has been given to us...God’s sign is simplicity...God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us.. He does not come with power and outward splendor. He comes as a baby- defenseless and in need of our help. He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength. He takes away our fear of his greatness. He asks for our love; so he makes himself a child. He wants nothing from us other than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into his feelings, his thoughts, and his will- we learn to live with him and to practice with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love. God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him and love him...Christmas has become the Feast of gifts in imitation of God, who has given himself to us. Let us allow our heart, our soul and our mind to be touched by this fact (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI)
The Incarnation of the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity as a man, turned the entire world upside down. We think of a king being born with all the trappings of the world, the best of everything; but he was born in a stable and wrapped with swaddling clothes. His birth was announced by angels to a group of sheep herders, themselves rejected by their countrymen. His kingdom would not be formed through military battles or worldly wisdom; but a kingdom of service to others, based on his teaching known as the Beatitudes. His crown would not be a crown of gold and jewels, rather a crown of thorns. He doesn’t enter his city with a procession of power, but riding on a donkey. His throne was not in a palace; rather a cross on a hill outside the walls of the city. His glory is not occupying a worldly empire; but an empty tomb, the pierced hands of a glorified body, burning memories of a walk to Emmaus, a breakfast of grilled fish on the shore of Galilee; his generals are a group of nobodies that all abandoned him in the moment of his greatest need.
Everything is turned upside down, an inversion of all we hold dear as human beings. This is especially true in light of the scandals that continue to rock the Church. We do not make excuses for the actions of even one person in authority in the Church, but we need to learn to read the world through the eyes of the Gospels, bringing the real world into a sharper focus. On Christmas morning our expectations change. We worship a new born babe; a king who challenges us today and tomorrow, a king who will turn everything upside-down, a king who will lead us in our own journey to join him one day in heaven.
May God bless all of you and your families this Christmas season.