God became one of us, so that we might become His children.
We know that a mysterious light will illuminates the night tonight and will shine tomorrow morning. A light emanates from the baby in the manger, from the stable, from the city of Bethlehem.
Not the kind of light you get from a light bulb. Baby Jesus is not a human flashlight. The mysterious inner light of the newborn Christ illuminates not just one place, but every place. Not just one night or one day, but every night and every day.
The light of communion with God, of true religion, of divine adoption. Christ shines the inner light that unites us with our Creator, with the One Who governs all things for the sake of eternal love.
The other day I was watching a debate between an atheist and a Christian. The atheist said something interesting.
The question is: How did it all begin? And the atheist argued: A reasonable person seeks the simplest possible explanation for everything, including the beginning of the universe. Saying that an “intelligent God” created everything adds complexity. It brings something complicated into an explanation that we ought to try to keep as simple as possible.
Now, there’s something to this. If he thinks that “faith” or “religion” automatically means something impossibly complicated, some kind of lumpy, super-heavy backpack that you have to put on and carry around everywhere, with no hope of ever opening it to see what all the heavy stuff inside is. If “God” is really a complicated web of human ideas.
After all, this little baby grew up to say things like, “Woe to you, Pharisees, you frauds! You abandon the law of God and hold onto human traditions.”
So we sympathize with the atheist’s idea about keeping things simple. Then we point out to him that he missed the mark, in his attack on our faith in the Creator.
We say: Man, we do not propose to explain How It All Began by some complicated theory of God. Totally the opposite. The light that shines from baby Jesus shows us, by its enchanting simplicity, just how impossibly complicated we are, by comparison. We’re the complicated ones.
God became one of us, so that we could become like Him.
Is Catholicism complicated? I’ll speak for myself and say: This past year, it became a whole lot more complicated than it ever was before! We Catholics have to live in the trackless no-man’s land where we owe our first allegiance to an institution that is compromised to the core. But our faith has not been compromised at all. Rather, the solid truth of the Catholic faith—the light of Christ working in the souls of sex-abuse victims, giving them courage and clarity–has exposed the hidden weakness and dishonesty of the Catholic hierarchy.
Catholicism at the end of 2018:True faith; compromised high priests of the faith. Not an easy place for us to live, at least not for me. But let’s leave the complexities of Catholicism to the side for one moment. After all, Planet Earth is complicated. Human nature: complicated. You’re complicated; I’m complicated.
But not God. Not the mysterious divine light that shines from the crib.
The mystery of our religion, the religion of Jesus; the mystery of being a child of God: it is neither vague nor complicated.
Because He Himself lived that mystery, before the eyes of witnesses. From the moment of His conception in the Virgin’s womb, to the carpenter’s bench and the synagogue, to the Temple, to the cross, to the garden outside the tomb, to the mount from which He ascended into heaven: He Himself, the Creator, showed us human creatures, by His human life, The Way. The way of the child of God.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, the merciful, the peacemakers, and the pure of heart. Love your enemies, and do good to those who wrong you. When you pray, say: Our Father, Who art in heaven. Do not worry, because your heavenly Father clothes the lilies of the field who neither toil nor spin, and you are worth more than many sparrows. Take up your cross, and follow Me. Eat My flesh and drink My blood. Baptize all nations. Love one another as I have loved you. Store up treasure in heaven.
Planet Earth is a complicated place. But uncomplicated Jesus has changed the earth from a trackless no-man’s land into a pilgrim road to the Father’s house. And the amazingly simple thing is: When we love Jesus in the manger, we’re already there.