By Theresa Montminy
The quiet dignity of a Christmas crèche can seem lost in the midst of glittery decorations and brightly-wrapped presents. Humility is a virtue that does not come easily to many of us. It is difficult to separate the idea of success from socioeconomic status in a society where we tend to measure our worth by the acquisition of material goods.
Yet, it is within the humble scene of the manger that our greatest gift is found. There, God’s grace is revealed in the birth of a child sleeping in the presence not of riches, but of God’s own creatures.
The modest birth of Jesus was the beginning of our first lesson in authentic humanity. The lesson is to understand that, because of Christ’s sharing in our humanity, now we are loved by God not for what we possess or what we do, but simply for who we are with all of our warts, imperfections and failures.
What a wonderful legacy to receive! How can we hope for anything more wondrous than that? Truly, Christmas is a time for rejoicing.
The miracle of Christ’s birth is not just that God has come among us, but that, through the birth of Jesus, we are shown a God who has always been with us.
God has been with us throughout our history and in Jesus, God has entered our human world. Through Christ, we witness a God who loves without measure and who asks in return only that we love and honor one another.
This is not something that can be bought. It cannot be earned. All we can do with God’s love is to accept it freely and when we do, we discover that we are changed. It is because we believe in the greatness of the miracle of Christmas that we are called to follow HIM . . . to be disciples!
As we reach out in love to one another because we have allowed God’s love to enter us, we are learning to become authentically human. Discipleship is not about being perfect, it is about striving to build a relationship with the one who calls us closer to HIM. That is the miracle we remember in our liturgies on December 25th.
As we celebrate Christmas this year, may the packages we place under the tree be real tokens of our love, given in the spirit of thanksgiving for God’s amazing gift of life. All creation belongs to God and we, too, belong to God, a God who has given us new hope in the birth of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
As followers, we are called to go forth and announce His salvation day after day, in all that we do. Let us rejoice!
May you and those you love have a joyful Christmas and a blessed new year.
Theresa Montminy is Director of the Mission Advancement office in the Diocese of San Bernardino.