The Best Thing about Christmas

img_20161224_124607320To understand what Christmas is really about, let’s imagine something.

Imagine that Adam and Eve had never sinned. Imagine that nothing bad ever happened. Imagine that no one fell for temptations. Imagine there is no evil. Imagine there are no wars, no disasters, no tragedies. Imagine that there is no death.

But subtracting all the bad does not yet add up to the best. Making all the negativity disappear does not mean that goodness appears. Because life is not about avoiding sin, and living the best you can.

Life is about love. And love requires relationship. An intimate relationship. A relationship that never grows old, because it always grows deeper. A relationship that does not die, that cannot die, because at least one person won’t let it die.

So that we might have a relationship with our Father—that’s why the Virgin gave birth to God. So that we might grow closer to and more intimate with God—that’s why God’s Son knitted our flesh to His divine nature. So that we might have a full, abundant life—that’s why the Creator of our life freely chose to live our life. So that we might know what love truly looks like, what love truly is—that’s why Christ was born.

With Our Lord’s birth, we can begin to understand the full extent of what it means when we call him “Our Savior.” It’s not just that Jesus came to lead us in the right path. It’s not just that Jesus became man so that He could die to forgive our sins. It’s not just He died to release us from the grip of death.

All of this is certainly true. And certainly good. And certainly saves us. But our salvation is much deeper than being rescued or liberated. Being saved means being able to live with God, in God, and with God living in us.

And to live with God, to live in God, and to have God live in us—that is why God melded his nature to our nature. That is why Christ was born.

For Christ’s birth means that we can now draw near to the Unapproachable One. That we can be consumed with God without God consuming us. That we can have God’s nature in us without losing who we are. That we can have a real, authentic, intimate relationship with God.

For Christ is both God and human. God, begotten of the Father before any time, before any creation. And human, born of the Virgin Mary in our time, clothed in our nature. Christ is human, capable of temptation, suffering and death; and He is God, capable of resisting temptation, living through suffering, and overcoming death. And Christ Jesus is God, able to relate to and communicate with all humans, across times and locations; and He is human, able to sympathize with us in our weakness, and connect with us individually.

The best thing about Christ Mass, then, is not that a child is born. Not that child will rescue us from sin, and deliver us from death. The best thing about Christ Mass is that this little child is born in order to make a home in us, so that we might come home to our Father in His kingdom.

And that is made plain in the details of the story. As you know, Christ is born in Bethlehem—the city of David. But more importantly, the city whose name means ‘House of Bread.’ And this little Child is laid in a manger. A feeding trough. A bread box.

Why do these details matter? Because they tell us that Christ is born to be our Bread. To be the Bread of Life. The Bread which renews, and reinvigorates, and re-energizes our life—even as He also keeps us alive. And the Bread by which we receive God. For when we receive the Holy Eucharist, we receive God. When the communion is placed on our tongues, God enters not only our heart and mind, but our very flesh. When we receive from the Chalice, God mingles Himself with our blood.

And that is why Christ is born. So that God might draw near to us, with an intimacy that exceeds our best desires, an intimacy that is closer than we can believe, an intimacy that exceeds our imagination.

All of this is what lies behind the words the angel says to the shepherds. It’s not just about salvation from sin. It’s even more so about life in with the Lord.

And so, ‘for you is born this day in the city of David the Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe, wrapped in your flesh, lying on the altar.

By the prayers of His holy and immaculate Mother, may we draw near to Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was made man in order to bring us to Our Father; who lives and reigns with His Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end.