I once heard a priest whom I deeply respected say something about Christmas that troubled me. He said that Christmas was really more for children, while Easter was truly for adults. This statement troubled me because while the Christmas mystery is more easily accessible to children than might be the Easter mystery, Christmas is neither superficial nor superfluous. On the contrary, the Christmas mystery is profoundly penetrating as it provides the foundation for understanding the key significance of the Easter mystery.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes St. Athanasius’ poignant expression: ‘the Son of God became man so that we might become God’ (CCC 460). This is sometimes referred to as the ‘great exchange:’ God enters the human condition to transform it, heal it, and elevate it, so that humanity might enjoy communion with God. Indeed, there is nothing superficial or superfluous about that aspect of the Christian mystery. This is the deep significance of the Christmas celebration: God enters our world, our humanity, so that we might enter his world, his divinity.
We might ask one more question in all this: why does God do this? He doesn’t have to. He humbles himself to enter our humanity freely, out of love – love for you and me. I invite us all to ponder that mystery of God’s boundless love during this Christmas Season. Let us take time to ponder the quiet serenity of the Manger scene – Joseph and Mary in adoration of the new born Jesus. This scene speaks to us deeply of God’s quiet, but profound presence in the world, and if we allow him to enter, in our lives.
In this Christmas Season, I pray that the sacred mystery of Jesus’ birth penetrate our lives, our families, our relationships, our work and activity, that we might acknowledge the power of the Incarnation ever at work within us – transforming us, healing us, elevating us to communion with a God who loves us beyond our imagination.
Be assured of my daily prayers for you, especially in this Christmas Season!
Bishop Oscar Cantú