|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
God With Us: Emmanuel
Sunday, December 25, 2016
Several years ago, Kate Middleton and Prince William gave birth to their first-born son. There was great speculation for months about this birth by reporters all over the world. In fact, weeks ahead of time they camped out at the hospital right across the road from the front door where the child was to be born. The child was born in a private suite in a private wing of the hospital, and when the mother eventually gave birth, it was written on a scroll and proclaimed outside the hospital announcing the birth of George Alexander Lewis, the future king of England. The first people to visit the child, George, were his grandparents, the current Queen of England and her husband Prince Phillip. The bells tolled a special, newly composed tune from Westminster Abbey and Cathedral of St. Paul for no less than four solid hours.
Contrast that with the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. There was great anticipation of it by all the prophets for centuries and indeed millennia beforehand, but when the Son of God came, the angels appeared only to a few lowly shepherds in the fields outside. Remember, shepherds were considered members of the lowest profession because they were nomads who slept with their sheep in the open field. Yet, it was to them the angels came to announce, and the shepherds greeted the newborn king, who was born in a stable, a cave for animals, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, a trough for animals, as Luke’s Gospel tells us today.
We might ask: If God is all powerful, why not come in majesty and glory? Why not come as royalty? Why come in such poverty?
But that is the point. God comes not as someone with power and authority over us. He came as one of us so that we could relate to him as a fellow human. God wants to communicate with us that he loves us and that he is not some deity in the sky but a personal God. A God who wants a personal relationship with each and every one of us, so he sends his Son to be with us so that we would know God, through Christ, who would be our brother. No matter where we are and no matter what we are doing, no matter how far away we might think we are, or how far away we might want to be, God is always with us, and God is always on our side. Emmanuel: God With Us.
That is the simple yet profound message of Christmas: that God became one of us so that we know God is with us, that God loves us, and that God saves us. And his only request is that we respond by loving one another and loving him. Today, God is with us. Emmanuel. God does save us. Jesus Christ.