“Merry Christmas!” We greet each other this way at this time of year, casually or with warmth, and a host of meanings attend the phrase. We say with these words: Hope you have fun on the holidays! Enjoy this gift I’ve brought you. Please sit at our table and share our feasting. Have a safe journey and a lovely time with your family. In whatever context we utter the phrase, “merry Christmas” is a wish and a blessing of real, tangible, incarnate life. We wrap love in bright paper and top it with a bow. We bake love in fragrant kitchens and serve it on longer-than-usual tables. We find love with the people who are most important to us. We have intimate conversations we never find time for in any other season of the year. Christmas celebrates our humanity, wonderful enough that God chose to share it. And He continues to do so.
God wraps divine love in swaddling clothes and a baby’s hungry cry. God serves up love to be eaten and drunk at tables the world over. God decrees that divine love can be discovered in coming together with people we love and also with people we don’t love or even know. God is in our conversation, in the heart of the world and the heart of each one of us, but He is most miraculously present in the Bread of Life that we partake in every time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist.
Friends, God is in the world, in the flesh. God wants to be known as Emmanuel, God-with-us. Not some God-out-there, but God-right-here! Not a God who receives our prayers from faraway and may or may not reply—but a God who experiences our loneliness, sweats our fear, hopes for what we hope for, and works through us and with us to bring the future into being. Merry Christmas indeed!
In the Peace of our Incarnate Lord,
Fr. David C. Santos