At Christmas we celebrate the huge step God takes towards us to bridge our estrangement from him, to teach us what we dearly need to know again and again: namely, how deeply and personally he loves us. He continues to do this by making himself disarmingly approachable, meeting us exactly where we are, in our human ordinariness and need.
On Christmas in 1971, Blessed Paul VI said: “God could have come wrapped in glory, splendor, light and power, to instill fear, to make us rub our eyes in amazement. But instead he came as the smallest, the frailest and the weakest of beings. Why? So that no one would be ashamed to approach him, so that no one would be afraid, so that all would be close to him and draw near him, so that there would be no distance between us and him. God made the effort to plunge, to dive deep within us, so that each of us can speak intimately with him, trust him, draw near him and realize that he thinks of us and loves us . . . He loves you! Think about what this means! If you understand this, you will have understood the whole of Christianity.”
As we pause by the crèche, let us realize anew that God chose to be born a tiny child primarily because he wanted to be loved. At Christmas, we are called to say “yes” with our faith, not to the Master of the universe, and not even to the most noble of ideas, but precisely to this God who is himself humble Love to and for us.
He comes to us in our own “Bethlehems”—that is the unfathomable beauty of Christmas. He always takes the initiative in our lives, and where we are loveless, he puts love, and draws out love, our love, so that we might love him through the very love he has for us. The grace of Christmas brings love to birth in our hearts once again and teaches us what we dearly need to know at any moment: that we are loved, and changed by love.
Photograph of the crèche in the Abbey church by Brother Jonah. Meditation by Father Dominic.