Monday, December 24, 2012
Is there anything more precious in this world than a baby? You Moms and Dads, think of when your baby came into the world and when you first held your newborn child. Have you had an experience that brought more joy than this one? Jesus came into the world the same way. (As a thought experiment for you Moms—consider going through the birthing process, not in a modern hospital but in a stable!)
Two of my best friends—Josh and Emily—had some difficulty getting pregnant right away. It was a great day when they called me to tell the good news that their first was on the way. I had the great privilege of being in the hospital waiting room with their family at two in the morning on the big night. I’ll never forget walking down that hallway, standing outside their room and hearing the baby cry. When the nurse said “he,” we all knew it was a boy and Grandpa Tom was the proudest man on the planet—his first grandson.
A few minutes after Andrew was born, I got to hold him. My first thought was, “What a beautiful gift from God.” My next: “Dude, you don’t smell too good!” Thanks to Hollywood and TV, many of us have an idealistic notion of what a delivery room looks like. We imagine this pristine baby coming into the world spick and span. You parents know this is not exactly the case. As I looked down I noticed his hair was still wet. I didn’t want to think of what it was wet from. And there were still some gunk on him—again, I didn’t want to know why that was there either. In short, while the birth of a child is a joyous occasion, it is also quite messy.
“For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.” Many of us, especially if our relationship with God is not the strongest, often consider God as this old man looking to send us to hell. Here it is helpful to remember that God became a baby. Jesus humbled Himself, becoming a man. But Jesus didn’t descend from the heavens as a thirty-year old. He came into the world as we all do—as a cold, naked, helpless baby that couldn’t feed, change or bathe Himself. He came, like all babies, as a mess!
This reality captures the fact that God enters into the messiness of our lives. He doesn’t wait until we are perfect or have it all together. He takes us as we are and brings our messiness—our sin, depression, unemployment and addictions—and eventually nails them to the cross.
And in this we have great reason to rejoice. We can rejoice no matter what sufferings we may be enduring right now—sickness, unemployment, family issues or others. Jesus came to enter into the messiness of humanity and into your life. We can rejoice because we don’t need to figure everything out or be our own savior. We can rejoice whether we were in Church yesterday, last week, last Easter or ten years ago. God takes us where we are and wants nothing more than to usher His love and mercy upon us.
As we celebrate Christmas (which, even though Target says ends on the 25th, does not end for several days) I pray that Mass this evening and the joyous Nativity may strengthen your relationship with Jesus. I pray this time may be fruitful in your spiritual lives and that you may be drawn more deeply into God’s love, even in, or rather, especially in, the messiness of life.
Know of my prayers and have a very Merry Christmas.