Letter: Christmas 2001 and January 2002
Christmas: God in our life





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lumière  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?

Noël  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 a battlefield.

crèche  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.

Jacques Gaillot