By Maria Covarrubias
Christmas is about God’s presence in the world in a totally new way. The God who created the universe and journeyed with his people through the desert for 40 years, leading them to a land of milk and honey, takes on human condition to become one with us.
Over and over during Advent we heard the ancient prophecies proclaimed about this coming of God, Himself, into the world. We heard John the Baptist witnessing and testifying to the light, calling us to repentance and conversion as preparation for the presence of God among us. We heard the narration of the Annunciation and the courageous affirmative response of Mary to the Immaculate Conception that fulfilled the prophecy of the Child born of the Virgin. “While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” Luke 2: 6-7.
Repeatedly, we heard the prophet Isaiah shouting with expectation “here is your God; he comes with vindication, with divine recompense He comes to save you.” “They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.” This magnificent expectation of Advent is anchored in the event of God’s incarnation. The incarnation and the birth of Jesus are among the most important signs of God’s revelation of His love and mercy to us, for us and in us. Because of the incarnation we get to know the presence and essence of God more intimately and profoundly than ever before in light of whom He has revealed Himself to be, Jesus, His Son.
As we contemplate Christ first coming in the celebration of His birth, we begin to anticipate the prophecy of the second coming. In the Creed, we recite “He will come to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.” And the prophet Isaiah strongly proclaims that in that day “we will see and experience the saving power of God!”
God’s saving promise is real and alive for all of us in Jesus Christ! He is the life-giving force that infuses meaning to our lives in every place and circumstance, the only one that saves and gives everlasting life. He is the one that out of love and compassion causes the eyes of the blind to be opened, the ears of the deaf to be cleared, and the lame to leap with joy.
Christmas is a time of encounter with the Lord Jesus and with others. Jesus comes to the world in a tangible way to live among us, to understand us, to save us. Let us renew our sense of awe as we reflect on the great gift of Christmas: the birth and presence of the Son of God in the world. This might cause our heart to leap with joy as we realize that we are chosen to be part of this salvation story. “For God so loved the world that H gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16.
Knowing that God chooses to be one with us, what makes me leap for joy this Christmas season, and how will I carry that into the New Year?
Maria Covarrubias is Director of Catechetical Ministry in the Diocese of San Bernardino.