“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
God is with us.
The idea is old hat to us. We kind of take it for granted.
Yeah, God assuming human nature means he was with us. He was one of us. It sort of goes with the Christian territory.
But that is such an amazing thing! No other god was with his people. No other god was one of them. That is unheard of. Sure, the Greek gods took human form, but they didn’t live our condition. It was a masquerade, a deception…usually for some ulterior motive like sex.
Greek gods used their power to exploit people. They used them for selfish gain. Love? To the point of self-sacrifice? Forget it! Why would they love? It seems they were almost incapable of real love…almost like us.
They lusted. They brokered for power. They manipulated those underneath them.
God is with us.
Not only among us but one of us. United to us through a human nature. Uniting us to himself by sharing his own divine nature. He lived not to exploit us, but to save us. To redeem us from lust, from power brokering, from manipulation, from death.
And he’s not gone. He’s still with us sacramentally in the Eucharist. He’s still abiding with us in our own hearts.
For the ancient Israelites, having “God with us” mean favor, protection, victory in battle, dominance over their enemies, and abundance. For us, it means the same thing but on a spiritual level. And, sometimes, when it increases the spiritual life, on the material level as well.
Today we celebrate Christmas. God with us. Don’t take it for granted. Recognize it for the unprecedented gift it is. Reflect on the Christmas story with new ears, like you’ve never heard it before. Understand what it can mean for you. God can be born in your heart this Christmas if you give it over to him. Allow him to live in and through you.
But that’s the trick though isn’t it? It’s really hard to give it all to him. At least, I find it hard. And, I think I’m doing it and realize I’m not even close. I’m only deceiving myself.
That’s why, every Christmas I have to let it happen in me all over again. And I’ll have to keep letting it happen until one day, hopefully, I won’t have to will it anymore. He’ll just be there. Quietly abiding. Like a child asleep in a manger. And my soul will be still in him.