In Adoration of the Shepherds by Charles Le Brun (detail)

“It is not the ultimatum of a judge or the tax of a king, but the cry of a baby.”

What is there new to say about the mystery of Christmas? Poems, homilies, stories, paintings, songs, and movies have tried to speak into this ineffable reality. Peace, joy, and glad tidings are not just Christmas buzzwords. They are realities only possible because of what happened that night. Our world changed at the word of a woman at the Annunciation, and that Christmas night, the Light began to shatter the darkness.  Into time, space, and history, God was born – not as a mirage or a dream, not as an apparition – but in the flesh. He was born into the world that dark night, not as the judge, king, or powerful ruler that He is, but as a baby. 

Pope Benedict reflects, “In the Grotto of Bethlehem God shows Himself to us as a humble ‘infant’ to defeat our arrogance. Perhaps we would have submitted more easily to power and wisdom, but He does not want us to submit; rather, He appeals to our hearts and to our free decision to accept His love. He made himself tiny to set us free from that human claim to grandeur that results from pride. He became flesh freely in order to set us truly free, free to love Him.”

God set us free to love him. It is not the ultimatum of a judge or the tax of a king, but the cry of a baby. Love and allow yourself to be loved.  Yes, it is a coming that is not without demands; any parent would tell you that a baby requires self-surrender and sacrifice. Christ will require the same, but it is a selflessness poured out of love. That is what Christ comes to us to ask this Christmas. He asks us to accept his love and love him in return.

“On this Christmas night everything inside me stops. I am face-to-face with Him; there is nothing but this Child in the whole of that huge white expanse. He does not say anything, but He is there… He is God loving me” (Jacques Leclercq, A Year with the Liturgy).

Perhaps that is all that needs to be said or done. Simply sit with Him. He came as a baby to be loved and to love. After a difficult year, when we have perhaps struggled with fear and anxiety, depression and sadness, feelings of inadequacy or failure, Christ comes to us as a baby. Innocent and vulnerable. Not asking us to prove anything. Simply asking us to love Him.


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