“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word became flesh.” If this is not the herald of your Christmas season then it may be time to turn off the Christmas Carols on your radio for a bit and tune into some Scripture. This season we celebrate the most scandalously shocking moment of human history: our Creator took on human skin. Baby soft skin, I might add.
When the Son of God penetrates human history, he does not appear to us in glowing white garments, hovering like an angel. Nope. Instead, enter far stage left – a small, vulnerable Jewish infant. See, I would like to dispel white “American” Jesus from our Protestant America mindset because it wreaks havoc on our spiritual lives. I feel so often that because of the multitude of non-denominational Churches, that everyone tends to construct their own Jesus. We pick our favorite things that he said; we give him whatever superpowers we feel comfortable with, and boom – you have the recipe for a savior made in our own image and likeness.
But how backwards is that? There are so many fluffy Christmas songs poorly associated with the birth of God that I feel we are now in real danger of losing sight of Jesus as a true character of human history. If you place Christ on the same level as an enchanted snowman, you run the risk of making him as mythical as (spoiler alert) Santa Claus.
I am not suggesting we end Christmas. Every year I see the army of Catholic Moms who undertake the military order to put Christ back in Christmas. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them burn Christmas Trees or hang Santa in an effort to give back our savior his holiday. I am not one of those moms, nor am I the Grinch. My point is that I want to celebrate the Jesus of history just as badly as I want to experience the “feeling of Christmas.” As easy as it is to point a finger at the media for stealing Christmas, we have four fingers pointing right back at us for not really believing Jesus walked this earth, healing and fostering miracles.
It’s possible that here in America we have allowed Jesus of Nazareth to become an invention, a pious legend, or a bedtime story. I think the problem is that when there are such varying views of something, it makes it seem less credible. When there are forty people at a crime scene, each with a different vantage point, it immediately causes speculation to the entire event’s reality. Infinite varying Jesus-es, created by the multitudes biased, imperfect minds, must cause speculation to the Christ event. This is why we as Catholics profess the one Lord, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God who assumed human nature.
What makes Jesus our credible savior is that he is human, he is real. It is not just a cool ideology, it is REVELATION. The birth of Christ is the unveiling of our Creator’s face; it is the unveiling of himself. As Catholics, we do not profess an idea or an opinion, but a person – Jesus of Nazareth. As Pope Benedict writes, “Our faith is not an idea but an encounter with the living God who is our Father, who in his Son Jesus Christ has assumed human nature, who unites us to the Holy Spirit and who, in all this, remains the one and only God.”
I invite you to return to Bethlehem this Christmas. Encounter the living God that daily engages the world in the most intimate and personal ways. Renew your faith. Believe Jesus was born, died, and rose in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago and that he is here now. Let God reveal and unveil himself to you once again. Encounter Him. Believe in Him. Surrender to Him.
Jesus isn’t white; he’s Jewish. His mother was Jewish, and she was betrothed to a man named Joseph in Nazareth, in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was Tetrarch of Galilee. This particular time and place is given to us by St. Luke to assure us that this is a historical account, not just mythical language. “I believe in the one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Begotten Son of God…who by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary.”
It seems that we allow God to be an idea to us, but as a person involved in the material world? No. We refuse. Thus the Incarnation scandalizes us. The Resurrection, it scandalizes us. Are these not a contradiction of His own created matter?
Not if He truly reigns over matter, not if He truly is the Lord. In fact, this surpassing of matter becomes a confirmation that He is Lord. In this sense, Benedict writes, the Incarnation and the Resurrection conversely become the cornerstones of faith and reality. In Christ he has ushered a New Creation, and the Creator becomes also Redeemer. The historical virgin birth of Christ thus becomes our hope, as our Creator has entered the human realm now as Redeemer.
May the true Jesus of Nazareth reign in your hearts this Advent Season.