“For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.” Why did God come to us? Why did God save us? Simply put, because we needed to be saved. We could not do it for ourselves. As we hear in the Letter to Titus, “Beloved: The grace of God has appeared, saving all.” A little later in this letter Paul writes, “ When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy.” It is grace, sheer gift, unmerited and unearned. In fact, we only realized the full depth of our need for a Savior once the Savior came and met that need. It is sort of like the experience of being loved. Once you really know it for yourself and have tasted it, you realize just how much you needed and wanted it.
The shepherds found what they were looking for. Did you? Did I? Let me share my response. My response is yes and no. I say this because I am convinced that what I have found is that I am continually being found by the sheer, ever-surprising gratuity of God’s unmerited advances, God’s desire for intimate closeness, as close as whispered words in my ear or the sound of angel voices. My prayer for myself on this night is also my prayer for you- that we never, ever close ourselves off from being surprised again and again by the naïve, unaffected simplicity of God’s embracing advances.
Photograph of Christ Child in the Abbey creche by Brother Jonah. Excerpts from Abbot Damian's homily for this year's mid-night Mass.