“She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room in the inn.”
In a single sentence, Luke preaches the most startling of Christmas homilies. The Son of God, the Savior of the world would spend his first night living as one of us in a place where animals of the field are fed. In the dark silence of the first Christmas, The King of Kings and Lord of Lords would turn the world’s understanding and priorities upside down. No castle, only a court made up of shepherds, welcomed by a carpenter and an obedient young mother. Pope Emeritus Benedict, wrote in his “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narrative”: “From the moment of his birth, he belongs outside the realm of what is important and powerful in worldly terms.”
Throughout Jesus’ public ministry, Jesus would repeat his humble homily many times; starting with the shepherds who were the first to hear the Good News and gain a glimpse into His kingdom. It was the blind beggar, the cleansed leper, and widows and children, the most disenfranchised of the people that would gain the blessings that faith poured into their lives. They were poor in spirit and in their poverty recognized how much they needed Jesus to fill the void in their lives.
By the world’s standards, the intentional austerity of the biblical Christmas scene seems out of place. The world’s Christmas reflects a sense of false abundance. As usual the world tells us we need more stuff, while the Christ Child proves to us that what we really need to disconnect ourselves from the counterfeit treasure that a secular Christmas represents. There’s nothing inherently bad in the gifts we give at Christmas when they spring from a spirit of love and generosity. Nor is there anything wrong with enjoying the gifts, unless they fill a desire for excess and self-satisfaction. We must be mindful of the authentic message of Christmas that originated in the humblest of beginnings, that happiness and joy spring from those of us who are poor in spirit, allowing the abundance of God’s grace and love to illuminate our Christmas Spirit.
May you have a Merry Christmas defined and blessed by the angels’ clear instructions as to where we will discover the Lord: “You will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger…Glory to God in the highest.”