In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man's decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, This was he of whom I said, The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.' From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father's side, has revealed him.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, by becoming man and being born in a stable you show me what you are: Love. As I kneel before your image in the crib, I renew my belief in you as God made Man. I place all my trust in you, for how could I doubt anyone who loves me so much and is willing to do so much for me? I adore you with a heart filled with wonder and gratitude. I will stay by your crib throughout this Christmas Season so as to learn from you what real love is.
Petition: Lord, you became man for us, for me. Help me to become as simple as a child for you. Open my soul during this meditation to love you as I ought.
1. Mercy Made Visible. Born to a poor family in a humble stable, it's safe to say that Jesus has some moral authority when he says that if we do not become like little children, we shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Mt. 18:3-4). Only love can explain the extremes God was willing to endure to win us back to himself.
St. Paul writes to Titus saying the goodness and kindness of God our Savior has appeared. He saved us not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy. In the three Christmas Masses, the readings describe the birth of Christ in the silent simplicity of a Bethlehem midnight, the generation of the Word, and the birth of God in our souls. And all of these readings point to the one single manifestation of God, God who we now know is love (cf. I Jn. 4:10).
2. Becoming Like God. The majesty and power of God revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai inspired awe and fear, but our Lord in the manger at Christmas, this new manifestation of God, inspires wonder, love and the desire to draw close and be with him. Even to protect him. Indeed, Christ's birth ushers in a new law, the law of love, which God gave us only after he had shown the greatness of his own love towards us. And if the law of his kingdom is love and to enter into his kingdom we have to become like little children, then the connection between Bethlehem and our lives is clear. We must humble ourselves and become little in order to love. When God created us he created us in his own image and likeness (Gen.1:26), but in Bethlehem we have God appearing in the image and nature of man in which we were fashioned (Col. 1: 5), thus he becomes our ideal, standard, and model to follow.
3. God is Love. (I Jn. 3:1). It is a special grace to know this. For this truth to be more than a cliché, and instead penetrate our lives with all its transforming power, we need to come close to it and turn it over in our minds in prayer, letting it touch our hearts, letting it sink into our souls. In this spirit of prayer, God will disclose to us the true meaning of love. That's what Mary did; she turned these things over in her heart, finding their meaning.
In this mystery we discover that God's infinite love is effective, it becomes action; he comes among us in order to save us. God doesn't only wish us well; he takes action to do us the good he wishes us. This is the pattern of the love we must try to have, not just wishing others well but doing them good, giving ourselves. All other "love" is in reality self-love. God is love was never an abstract idea; it was John's conclusion under the influence of the Holy Spirit when he reflected on what God has done for us. And the Holy Spirit led him to continue, If therefore God loved us like that, we must love one another in the same way. God is love, only when this truth has penetrated into the depths of our souls can we begin to live our Christianity with total authenticity. Only then, touched by the Incarnate God at the foot of the crib, can we learn to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (cf. Mt 6:48) in humility, littleness, and charity.
Conversation: Lord, it is so easy to say, but so deep that I have to return to it time and time again: you loved me and gave yourself to me. Because you gave yourself to me to the degree of becoming man, I know you love me. Let this never be a simple cliché I repeat when it is a nice thing to say. Help me make it the driving conviction of my life, as it was for St Paul and every true Christian that has ever lived.
1. To what degree has the truth that God became man to save me become the fundamental experience and the driving force of my life?
2. What does Gods emptying of himself to become man say about my own purpose in life?
3. What can I do to make my love for God a greater factor in my life?