Here we are entering the week of Christmas. It came so fast for most of us, but for our littlest ones it was undoubtedly painfully slow. As we begin this week, it is time to reflect a bit on what it is that we celebrate. What is it all about? What does it tell us about the God of our faith? What does it tell us about ourselves?
Each year on the fourth Sunday of Advent our attention turns to Mary. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all present us with the figure of this woman of faith and of courage. In doing so they set out the surprising news that God has a plan that we could never possibly have imagined. This news takes us into the story of Christmas and the Incarnation.
From the very beginning, in creation itself, God has been with us. But we struggle to sense and know this God. Often our vision is of a God who is so great, so remote and so awesome that God is unrelatable for us. But God’s plan surprises us with the Incarnation.
With Mary we can be surprised by the way God comes to us. We will not always understand it, but we can certainly be amazed by it. In the Old Testament God reached into Israel’s story through prophets and leaders of all kinds. In the New Testament, God steps into our human history in the Incarnation a very different story.
Jesus the Christ enters our human story as the touch of God’s love. Beginning with Mary, we see that God’s attention is directed at the insignificant in history. The stories we will hear and celebrate at Christmas will be of people and places that are small and ordinary. Mary, Joseph, Nazareth, Bethlehem, the child, these are not the great of their time. But God has chosen to be with the small and the vulnerable and through them reveal the loving plan for all humanity. What a surprising way for God to act.
So what does this tell us about the God of our faith? And what does it tell us about ourselves? The God revealed in Jesus as the Christ is not a divinity that has to be won over. God loves us now and always has, unconditionally. It is a loving bond that can never be broken. Such a God is like a loving parent whose love appears when we are most vulnerable and weak, when we are most in need. Even the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, his friends is to as a loving parent.
We are the disciples, the friends, the adopted sisters and brothers of Jesus. The face of God’s mercy and love is reflected in each of us. It especially appears when we welcome the stranger and the migrant, assist the lost and the poor, accompany the lonely, the sick and the grieving. We are that face with the most vulnerable, for that is God’s face to each and every one of us. May this Christmas season bless one and all with God’s love and with the care, compassion and companionship of a community of loving disciples open to all.