Christmas forces us to revise the ideas and images that we usually have of God, but that keep us from coming close to God’s true face. God doesn’t allow Self to be imprisoned in our schemes and models of thinking. God doesn’t follow the pathways we mark out for God. God is unpredictable.
We imagine God as being strong and powerful, majestic and omnipotent, but God offers Self to us in the fragility of a weak child, born in the most absolute simplicity and poverty. We almost always put God in what is extraordinary, miraculous, and astonishing, but God presents Self in the every-day, in the normal and ordinary. We imagine God to be great and far away, and God makes Self small and near.
No. This God, incarnate in the child of Bethlehem, isn’t the One we would have expected. God isn’t in the height of what we would have imagined. This God can disappoint us. However isn’t this nearby God precisely the One we need right next to us? Isn’t this closeness to the human what best reveals the true mystery of God? Isn’t God’s true greatness shown forth in the weakness of this child?
Christmas reminds us that God’s presence doesn’t always respond to our expectations, since God offers Self to us where we least expect it. Certainly we need to seek God in prayer and silence, in the overcoming of selfishness, in the life that is faithful and obedient to God’s will, but God can offer Self to us when God wants and how God wants to, even in what’s the most ordinary and common of life.
We know now that God can meet us in any defenseless and weak persons who need our welcome. God can be in the tears of a child or in the loneliness of a senior. In the face of any person we can discover the presence of that God who has desired to become incarnate in what’s human.
This is the revolutionary faith of Christmas, the greatest scandal of Christianity, expressed in concise terms by Paul: «Christ, who being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped. But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; being in every way like a human being» (Philippians 2,6-7)
The Christian God isn’t a disincarnate God, far away and inaccessible. God is an incarnate God, close, near. A God whom we can touch, just the way we can always touch what’s human.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf