Living in Dubai for 3 decades opened my eyes to the social impact of being in the “‘right location,” surrounded by the world’s “tallest”, “biggest”, and “largest.”
Which is why, when our family got a chance to travel to the Holy Land for a pilgrimage, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why would the God of Heaven and Earth choose to come down to Bethlehem, at that particular point in time in history?”
You would think that Jesus would’ve chosen a different time and different circumstances to put on flesh and dwell among His people.
Maybe not to a teenage mother, and not in an animal feeding trough where His first visitors would not be His own relatives, but shepherds, who were basically at the lowest rungs of Jewish society.
Maybe not at a time the king wasn’t so insecure as to murder innocent children after listening to hearsay from foreign wise men that a new king was born.
Or especially, maybe not in a society where crucifixions were considered common punishments for sentenced criminals.
We could be one with St. Paul when he asks in Romans, “...for who can know the Lord’s thoughts?”
And yet, this is the path that God chose to take to live among His people.
This Christmas, many of us may celebrate the birth of our Savior in less-than-desirable circumstances — away from family due to social distancing, surrounded by fear of the unknown in an unstable economy, or even the lack of desire to find joy after all the pain and anxiety encountered this past year.
But perhaps, it could be precisely in these humbling circumstances that we might experience God’s presence closer to us than ever before.
It could be that at the “lowest”, “smallest” and “darkest” point of our lives, we might experience the full meaning of Christmas — the night when the Emmanuel “God-is-with-us” is born, not just in that “little town of Bethlehem”, but in our own hearts as well.
May our eyes be opened to the real reason of the season, and may the spark of hope be lit anew in our hearts that we, in turn, may become His living mangers in the world.
1. How have I been preparing to welcome Jesus this Christmas?
1. What new personal Christmas tradition can you start to remind yourself of the real reason for the season each year?
Have you ever wondered why Catholics pray with saints? Let’s unbox: