Christmas: God in our life
When some Moslem friends speak to me about God, it is always
a God far from us, not accessible, the supreme master of our
destiny. Since Allah is far away from them, one should not be
surprised if they are puzzled by the mystery of Christmas, when
God becomes man. They consider this as an outrage to God. How
could God demean himself and become so close to the point of
sharing our humanity?
But I can also see that for some Christians, God is far away
from their life, their activities. He stays outside. He is in
heaven, somewhere in space but not in their ordinary daily life.
In that case, does Christmas still have an impact on them? Or
is it rather a time for great and unusual shopping?
Why not be full of admiration for a
religion where God is so close to the humans, like a Child born
in Bethlehem! Christianity is a religion of proximity. Christmas
is God in life, God who enters into our historical times. God
is sharing our condition of being human. It is an extraordinary
event that reveals the incredible love of God for us. God comes
to live with us, to live in us. He was born in Bethlehem and
he comes to be born in us. "You were inside of me but
I was outside. You always have been with me, but I was never
with you" These remarkable thoughts of Saint Augustine
make us better understand that God is inside of us when we stand
outside ourselves. God cannot stay inside us against our will
and without our loving answer.
On Christmas when God becomes man, it is no longer possible to
meet (experience, encounter) God without meeting (experiencing)
man. Their paths cross each over. If I disfigure a man, I disfigure
God. If I disrespect a man, I disrespect God. If I harm a man,
I harm God. " As you did it not to one of the least of these,
you did it not to me" Says Jesus in Mt 25.
On Christmas Eve, we cannot avoid looking towards Bethlehem,
a place scorned by the violence of the weapons and feelings of
hatred. Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace was born, is now
On Christmas I like to look at the crib
to fulfill my imagination and my heart.
- Children look at it full of wonder,
teaching the adults how to become children again. In front of the crib, you feel no fear, like
being tamed. I look around to all the characters. I pray with
Mary, mostly communing with her joy in contemplating the event
she was waiting for. I see Joseph like a watchman. He is watching
Mary and Jesus. He understands that God put him there and he
does not dare to move. He looks to all the visitors coming to
see the baby; he does not seem to understand what is going on.
Anyway he kept his confidence in God and his prayer joined Mary's
prayer. I pray with the shepherds, happy that we called them
on, that we recognized them, that we love them. A little aside
I see the Magi, these men coming from elsewhere, and bringing
their different cultures. They approach the Godchild without
denying their own culture.
The crib comes alive. I add around it people I know and who are
part of my life. I place the immigrants without permit, the Palestinians,
the victims of all violence. I don't forget the prisoners, sick
persons, and unemployed people, all gathering in front of the
crib, and a crib with thousand of people. With all my heart I
wish you a Christmas in Peace and the joy that Mary had on Christmas.
Happy New Year.