once again this night is illuminated by the light that comes into the world: Jesus, the Word of God. A particular light that shines more than the sun and all the stars in the sky.
It is the light of a tenderness that only a newborn child can generate in the heart of every man, even in that of the cruellest or most tyrant of this world. It is no coincidence that when a new creature is born it is commonly said: “it has come to light”. But he’s still a child. For us Christians, the child born in Bethlehem is Jesus, God who became a child according to the natural and supernatural cycle of conception in Mary’s womb, gestation, birth, cries and the love of a father and a mother who they welcomed and loved him.
It is the night during which we contemplate more than ever that God is in need of human love. It seems strange that He who is Love, the source of Love, asks for our love. Yet this is the God we believe in: not a man who makes himself god, but exactly the opposite, God who makes himself a child, fragility and tenderness so that his power does not frighten us: what could be more disarming and disarming than a child?
A unique story that has the flavor of the incredible, of the mystery that reveals itself, shows itself, lets itself be touched and caressed, that asks to be held in one’s arms and cradled. Just like every child that comes into the world.
Meanwhile we, who beg for love every day, are asked by the Child God for our love. If we want to understand the incarnation of the Word of God, therefore Christmas, we must learn to enter into man’s feelings, into his thoughts. Only in this way will we be able to understand the feelings of the God Child, his thoughts and his will.
At Christmas we touch God’s solidarity with men, precisely through the action of men enlightened by him. Solidarity which, in these lean times, becomes a primary need on the part of so much humanity that knows how to dilate its heart towards less fortunate than our city and our countries. Above all the young people who enliven their schools and, accompanied and supported by their teachers, are capable of gestures of extraordinary solidarity without publicizing what they actually do.
The Angel to the frightened shepherds says: «Do not be afraid: behold, I announce to you a great joy, which will be of all the people: today, in the city of David, a Savior was born for you, who is Christ the Lord. This is the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger”. God’s solidarity with men is contemplated precisely by those shepherds who, having gone to the grotto in Bethlehem, can bask in that light that shines through the Child, the Word made flesh. It is divine light that envelops human life, becoming a travel companion on the roads that we are called to travel every day, in the places we frequent and where we live.
And that Christ comes for the last is testified by the fact that his birth is communicated to the most neglected class of those times, so much so that pastors were not even allowed in temples. How many shepherds like those of Bethlehem are there today! Shepherds live their existence on the margins of society; they are exploited and underpaid; they live in unhealthy places and not worthy of a civilized society; they cannot have loved ones who share daily life, far from their families; forgotten by all. Yet God manifests himself first of all to them because he makes them capable of bringing light to those who, despite having everything, are without God’s light; he makes them capable of sowing peace along the sunny deserts of history and the icy paths traveled by those who carry hatred and vengeance in their hearts.
From God’s solidarity we are invited to learn that he is Emmanuel, that is, God with us, forever, every day. With St. Paul and the shepherds we too, this night, can say that «the grace of God has appeared, which brings salvation to all men and teaches us to renounce impiety and worldly desires and to live in this world with sobriety, with justice and with mercy, waiting for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”.
St. Paul’s words become a crossroads between a humanity that chooses and teaches impiety, war and all that is against human dignity, starting from all forms of injustice up to the repression of the most elementary human rights, and a humanity that chooses the proximity of God who is in the midst of men, behind men, in front of men: travel companion, prince of peace.
On Christmas night we choose exactly “the grace of God which appeared among us”. We choose to open workshops of justice and peace aware that «…every soldier’s shoe that marched thundering and every cloak soaked in blood will be burned, given to the fire. Because a child was born for us, a son was given to us.” These words that we heard in the first reading, taken from the Prophet Isaiah, also give us an answer to what is happening in many parts of the world and in particular in Ukraine. In the human heart there is a desire for peace, especially in those who have lost all security: loved ones stolen, abused and killed, houses gutted, without water, without electricity and without heating.
The selfishness of the powerful, their interests in worshiping the god of money, the political power to be enlarged, strongly undermine equity and fraternity, trampling on the dignity of entire nations. And we, like the shepherds, are invited to rekindle hope tonight by the light of the Child God. «On his shoulders is the power and his name will be: Admirable Counselor, Mighty God, Father forever, Prince of peace. Great shall be his power, and peace shall have no end upon David’s throne and upon his kingdom, which he comes to consolidate and strengthen with justice and justice, now and forever. This will be done by the zeal of the Lord of hosts.”
In this night of light in the Child of Bethlehem human nature meets the divine. Man in his misery and fragility is covered by God, receiving wealth that comes from above. It is the night during which we are absorbed in the loving relationship of God who is Father, Son and Spirit. And in this relationship we speak, we move, we act exactly like God: we are divinized.
Christmas is exactly that: participating in the divine life
On this night we hear the singing of the Angels again. A song announcing peace: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those whom he loves” (Lk 2:14). “Jesus Christ is our peace!” (Eph 2:14). Never before have we felt the desire for peace as strongly as now. Too much blood shed by children, young people, adults and the elderly! Every war is to be renounced. Everything is so absurd and inhumane. Those who declare and pursue war have emptied themselves of humanity, they do not know what love is.
On this night the Angel brings an announcement of joy: “Do not be afraid: behold, I announce to you a great joy, which will be of all the people: today, in the city of David, a Savior was born for you, who is Christ the Lord” . Certainly the scenario that surrounds us, however heartfelt the desire for normality, does not help us to be joyful. There are too many people who are not in joy; who despite having everything, have death in their hearts: A happiness that hides voids, dissatisfactions and fear of the future is flaunted from many quarters and at different levels.
Only those who have the courage to adore that Child Jesus will find peace and experience the true taste of joy.
On this night we are invited to open ourselves to hope. If in Bethlehem, the city of bread, God became the food of eternal life, in Matera, the new city of bread and the Eucharist, we are invited to “return to the taste of bread”. We are invited to break and share the Eucharistic bread to share daily food in healed human relationships, in rebuilding bridges of fraternity, in opening new neighborhood construction sites through serious and far-sighted planning.
If the Emmanuel continues to be born for humanity, it will be possible – it will have to – be hypothesized that in this phrase “God with us” the important words are neither God nor us, but all the greatness to which we are called lies in the small particle “with”: and in fact, even today we are asked to unhinge our attention from a disruptive self and turn it to the other by virtue of a miracle with the contours of a fairy tale. And just to remind us that the truly lucky is not the one who is loved but the one who, by seizing love, manages to give himself a gift of what he is, of what he has, with his hands full of his own nakedness and his grace.
S. Christmas everyone. Jesus comes today as yesterday. Let’s welcome him, adore him, enjoy his presence, cover him with his light, bring peace and joy wherever we are and wherever we go.
So be it.