And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
On this Christmas Day, let me begin with a quote from twentieth-century writer G.K. Chesterton: “When a person has found something which he prefers to life itself, he [sic] for the first time has begun to live.” Jesus in his proclamation of the kingdom told us what we could prefer to life itself—and it would work! The Bible ends by telling us we are called to be a people who could say, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20), who could welcome something more than business as usual and live in God’s Big Picture. We all have to ask for the grace to prefer something to our small life itself because we have been offered the shared Life, the One Life, the Eternal Life, God’s Life that became visible in this world in Jesus. We do not get there by being correct. We get there by allowing the connection. It is like a free wireless connection!
The kingdom is finally to be identified as the Lord Jesus himself. When we say “Come, Lord Jesus” on this Christmas Day, we are preferring his Lordship to any other loyalty system or any other final frame of reference. If Jesus is Lord, then Caesar is not! If Jesus is Lord, then the economy and stock market are not! If Jesus is Lord, then my house and possessions, family and job are not! If Jesus is Lord, then I am not! That multileveled implication was obvious to first-century members of the Roman Empire because the phrase “Caesar is Lord” was the empire’s loyalty test and political bumper sticker. They, and others, knew they had changed “parties” when they welcomed Jesus as Lord instead of the Roman emperor as their savior.
What we are all searching for is Someone to surrender to, something we can prefer to life itself. Well here is the wonderful surprise: God is the only one we can surrender to without losing ourselves. The irony is that we find ourselves, and now in a whole new field of meaning. This happens on a lesser level in every great love in our lifetime, but it is always a leap of faith ahead of time. We are never sure it will be true beforehand. It is surely counter-intuitive, but it is the promise that came into the world on this Christmas Day, “full of grace and of truth.” Jesus is the gift totally given, free for the taking, once and for all, to everybody and all of creation. This Cosmic Risen Christ really is free wireless, and all we have to do is connect.
Henceforth humanity has the right to know that it is good to be human, good to live on this earth, good to have a body, because God in Jesus chose and said “yes” to our humanity.
Or as we Franciscans love to say, “Incarnation is already Redemption.” The problem is solved. Now go and utterly enjoy all remaining days. Not only is it “Always Advent,” but every day can now be Christmas because the one we thought we were just waiting for has come once and for all.
Today just “taste and see the goodness of the Lord” (Psalm 34:8)!