Every year, Christmas comes to a world that is not ready for the birth of God in our midst.
There was no room for Jesus in the inn on that first Christmas night, and there seems to be no room for God in the world today.
He comes as light into a world darkened by hatred and conflict, a world where so many hearts are closed to those in need, unable to show compassion or empathy, closed to mercy and forgiveness.
I am thinking of the little Guatemalan girl who died last week after crossing the border in New Mexico. She had a name, Jakelin Caal Maquin.
Let us pray for her and her family and also for all the families in the “caravan” from Central America, and all those who are struggling and suffering because of our broken immigration system. Let us pray for the millions of refugees in the world, especially the children.
The sadness in the world is the same as it was on that first Christmas night. “He was in the world,” the Gospel tells us, “yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.”
When we do not welcome God, we have a hard time welcoming the human person who is made in God’s image. Without a Father in heaven, we are not brothers and sisters here on earth. Our world becomes a struggle between the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor.
This is why the world needs Christmas! We need to understand — again and again, year after year — what it means that our God comes to us as a little child.
The mystery of Christmas is that Almighty God has made himself completely vulnerable. The great God, Creator of the universe, makes himself small — a baby who cannot take care of himself.
We can never fully understand this mystery of love. This is a “new thing,” never seen in all of human history. The living God comes not in power, but in weakness; not in glory but in humility; not to conquer but to invite.
He comes this way, I think, so that we will not be afraid of him, so that we will not think that he is a God who is far away from us, up there in the heavens, unconcerned with our life here on earth.
God comes as a child, so we can hold him in our arms, so we can love him. He comes asking for a place in our hearts; he comes in need of our love.
This is the truth! Jesus is coming. Our Lord is near! So, we should be rejoicing. We should have a smile on our face these days. We should be living these days with a spirit of happiness and excitement that we want to share with the people around us.
This past weekend, I took part in a beautiful tradition that we have here at the cathedral every year during Advent: our “Adopt-a-Family” program. We delivered food and Christmas presents to nearly 500 families downtown and on Skid Row, we were able to give to about 2,000 children.
This is really a special, wonderful day — to see the smiles on the children’s faces, they are so happy. And the spirit of giving — we have so many volunteers who help us deliver the gifts and so many people who donate.
God gives us everything — by giving Jesus to us! Because in Jesus we know the living God and we know that he loves us and that he wants to be with us.
So, let us make this our Christmas prayer — that we will open our hearts to the gift of Jesus. May we grow in our compassion for our neighbors, especially the youngest and most vulnerable among us.
Jesus Christ takes up our humanity in order to show us what our human soul is worth; he comes to remind us that every person is a child of God — no matter how inconvenient or how burdensome.
The child we love in the manger calls us to give ourselves to others, as he has given himself to us.
We follow Jesus by imitating him in his humility. We imitate him by filling our hearts with love for our brothers and sisters, by making ourselves vulnerable for their sake. As he reached down to lift up our fallen humanity, let us do the same for our brothers and sisters, especially the poor and marginalized, the prisoner, the refugee, and the migrant.
I will be praying for you and your families and loved ones in this beautiful Christmas season. Please remember to pray for me.
And let us ask the Virgin Mary to help us to love Jesus as she loved him. The joy, the beauty of Christmas — let it enter our hearts!