THE BIRTH OF JESUS -- THE INCARNATION OF GOD
The annual season we know as Christmas is a time when most people remember the stories of Jesus' birth. The media is full of movies, articles and advertisements, which remind us of those stories. They are good stories -- Joseph & Mary, Bethlehem, "no room at the inn," the manger, the shepherds, Herod the Great, the wise men, and the celebration by angels. They are stories we need to tell our children and on which we can reflect with our neighbors and colleagues, especially at this time of the year.
However, the real story of the birth of Jesus, the story, which both Matthew and Luke emphasize, is that the birth of Jesus is the incarnation of God. It is the appearance of God himself in the flesh. It is this event which we celebrate weekly and this person whom we worship daily. The real story of the wise men, for example, is not that they visited Jesus, but that they worshipped him and gave gifts to him -- an example we ought to imitate.
The incarnation, God coming as one of us in the flesh, is at the heart of Christianity and one of its central themes. This is the story we need to tell -- that God humbled himself to become one of us.
He became one of us in order to reveal God to us. The life of Jesus tells the story of how God would act if he were a human being. In Jesus we have a concrete example of who God is, how he behaves, and how he relates to people. We see God when we see Jesus.
He became one of us in order to experience and sympathize with our suffering. God in himself does not know what it is like to be thirsty, hungry or to experience physical pain. God in Jesus, however, experienced all of these human frailties. Now God knows what it is like to be a human being. He is the empathetic and sympathetic God through Jesus.
He became one of us in order to redeem us through the sacrifice of his own life. As the God-Man, Jesus is the mediator between God and Humanity. It his human life that he offered as an atonement for our sins. He represents us before God since he is one of us.
At this Christmas season, remember the real story of Jesus' birth. It is not found in the moralistic (though profitable) stories of Rudolf, the Little Drummer Boy, or the movie "Miracle on 34th Street". The real story is that God became one of us so that we might become one with God. It is that story we need to proclaim year-round and celebrate weekly.