There’s a story of a skeptical man who found the idea of Christmas, of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, as an absurdity. He couldn’t accept the fact that at a particular time in history the Creator of the world decided to become a creature and live among humans beings as a simple man. What kind of God would do such a thing? This seemed like nonsense.
One Christmas eve, however, while the man sat in his warm, comfortable home watching a blinding snowstorm outside, he looked out his window and noticed a flock of geese freezing in the cold. As he watched them searching for shelter, he had compassion on them and wanted to help. So he thought to himself, "My barn would be a great place for them to stay! It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm.”
So he dressed up, went out and tried to get the geese into his barn. Yet every time he approached the geese, they flew away. He ran after them. He chased them. He tried to shoo them into the barn. With every effort, however, the geese got no closer to the shelter he offered. They only became scared and scattered in every direction, except toward the barn.
Feeling totally frustrated, he exclaimed to himself, "Why don't they follow me! Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm! How can I possibly communicate with them to help them understand!”
He stood silently for a moment as his words reverberated back in his mind: "If only I could become like one of them -- then I could help them understand me, and save them.” In that moment he discovered the meaning of Christmas. He came to understand anew why God became human!
Christmas is about a God of love, a God who loved us so much that He willingly became one of us to help us come to a new understanding of what authentic humanity is. He showed us the way to rediscover our divine image and likeness within!
“We bring you good tidings of great joy!” the angels proclaimed. The Good News is that “God is with us,” God is among us, God is showing us the path back to Him!
What makes Christianity unique, completely different from all other world religions, is this mystery of God’s unimaginable love – a love so great that He would humble
Himself and become one of us. As Archbishop Anastasios of Albania reminds us, “All of our lives can be transfigured in a joyous feast, if the truth that “God is with us,” [that God became one of us and showed us the way], becomes the atmosphere in which we live and move and have our being!”
A beautiful hymn that we sing during the Service of the Royal Hours of Christmas summarizes the meaning of Christmas when it proclaims, “Christ is born TO RENEW THE LIKENESS that we lost long ago!” What likeness did we have, and if we lost something important, how can we rediscover it?
A fundamental Christian belief is that God created every person in this world in His image and likeness. I often look at my children and clearly see the physical image of us their parents in them. We all inherit certain genes from our parents and forbearers which make us similar to them. We understand the impact of physical genetics, yet what about the genetics of our soul? When God created the first humans, he placed within them a soul, which was formed in the image of a loving Creator. The fathers of the Church explained how we each have the ability to nourish and cultivate that divine image so it would mature and fulfill its potential in becoming God-like, becoming more and more like Christ.
We each have this unique calling and possibility – to become more and more like Jesus, to live and love and forgive like Christ, to show compassion, goodness and grace as our Lord did, to serve others and to bless all those with whom we come into contact. Our potential is to be one with Jesus and actually be Christ-like to the world around us. That is why St. Athanasios the Great summed up Christmas by saying, “God became human so that humans could become godlike.”
This meaningful and exciting call can transform our lives! Imagine, to become like God! Humanity lost this likeness of Christ when we consciously turned away from God, and we depart further from it each time we use our freedom to stray from God’s commandments and chase after our self-centered and superficial pursuits of life.
Christmas celebrates the moment in history when God acted in a particular and unique fashion. He decided to show His love by coming on earth as a human being, and revealing to the world what true humanity is all about. He incarnated divine agape love so that the world could better understand what true love means. And not only did he show the world what true humanity is, He offered His Spirit to live and dwell within us to help us. Christ came to renew that likeness of God within us which we had lost long ago!
Christmas is the deep incomprehensible mystery of God becoming human, one of us. He did this in order to show us what true human life is all about – a life of compassion, mercy and great love!
I wish you a most blessed and joyous Christmas!
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
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