Christmas is such a stressful time. All our stresses are multiplied. We have to worry about guests and presents and food…
And so I love going for a walk in the woods. It’s so quiet and peaceful. Might be a little cold, but it’s so comforting.
That’s also one of the reasons why I love the Nativity story.
It’s so comforting; the story about Mary and Joseph and the shepherds, the angels singing Gloria and the star. I love going to Christmas Eve Mass and listening to that story because it’s so comforting.
Although sometimes you go to Christmas Eve Mass and instead of listening about angels singing and shepherds and the star, you hear a long list of names. A whole bunch of unpronounceable names.
What does that have to do with Christmas?
The genealogy of Jesus has to do with God’s patience and fidelity. It has to do with God’s ability to make long-term plans. The ancestors of Jesus were a group of great people and not so great people; saints and sinners.
It has to do with family.
First we have Abraham. He’s the Father of the Jewish people. The great Abraham. A great ancestor. After Abraham is Isaac. Isaac was also great but he was a little weak in some sense. Then you have Jacob. Jacob was a bit of a liar, still he’s a patriarch. Judah, however, Judah was the one who had the brilliant idea of selling his little brother Joseph into slavery.
And so then you continue with some great people, some not –so-great people; people who made mistakes all the way to King David. And we know what David did. David had one of his lieutenants killed so that he could have his wife. But king Solomon, their son, was a great king; the great King Solomon.
But after you get a whole list of kings that were actually pretty horrible kings, which led to the Babylonian exile and then a whole bunch of ancestors that we actually don’t even know who they were ‘cause no one talks about them, which eventually leads us to Joseph who marries a young pregnant woman.
Sounds like my family.
It’s like all our families. Every family has the great uncle that everybody talks about and then the not-so-great uncle that nobody wants to talk about…. Every family has people who struggle with addictions. Every family struggles with divorce. Every family has unplanned pregnancies. Every family has ancestors that nobody talks about because we don’t even know who they are. And that is the kind of family that God chooses to be born into.
God chooses to be born into a family like yours and mine; a family of saints and sinners. This God, the creator of the universe, the king that we celebrated just before Advent; this king of the universe chooses to be born, not in a palace, but he chooses to be born through the womb of an unwed pregnant teen-ager. He is not born in a palace. He’s born in a stable. He doesn’t have dozens of attendants or nurses, he has animals. The people who hear the news of his birth are not rich and powerful; they are the shepherds of the day which were the shady characters of the day. And when the king finally hears about his birth he doesn’t send him a present; he actually sets out to kill him. So this god, our king, lives the first years of his life as a refugee.
That is our God.
The God of sinners, the God of adulterers, the God of liars. The God of those who don’t trust God. The God of the poor, the God of the homeless, the refugees, of those who have no education; the God of the poor. That is our God – the God that makes all things new. The God who is born despite our bad choices and bad decisions.
This Christmas, allow him be born inside of you. Let him be born in your poverty and your humility. Let him be born in your pain and in your fears. You will find God when you feel lost, when you feel like you’ve lost your way. If you can’t find God, look for him in the poor, in the oppressed and the afflicted. Look for him in the refugees and the captives. Look for him in your weariness, your sickness, your ignorance and your unemployment. Look for him in your pain. That’s where you’ll find him. Look for him in your family that is full of saints and sinners. There you will find him.
This is our God – the greatest of the great; the King and creator of the universe who makes himself small in the womb of a teenager. He also makes himself small in the form of a piece of bread so that we can see him; so that we can touch him and worship him. So we can eat him; so that in a very real way He can dwell inside of us and feed us.
This Christmas, let him be born inside your tired and afflicted heart. Let him be born in your family of saints and sinners and then you will be comforted.
Then you will find peace.
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: firstname.lastname@example.org