Preface I of The Nativity of the Lord

For more information on the Preface in general, see The Eucharistic Prayer (2) and The Eucharistic Prayer (3)

Christ is born. God is born. He’s wrapped in swaddling clothes and resting in a manger. God is a little baby who needs to be kept warm and needs to sleep. Has this dawned on us yet?

Christ the Light

As we contemplate this little baby it must dawn on us that things will never be the same. Christ, the Word made baby, enlightens us in a way that cannot leave us the same. He has come to help us realize that our relationship with God and with sin are something different than what we expected. From the moment of his Incarnation he is a revelation to us.

“For in the mystery of the Word made flesh a new light of your glory has shone upon the eyes of our mind, so that, as we recognize in him God made visible, we may be caught up through him in love of things invisible.”

The Jews during Our Lord’s earthly life expected a powerful political and military ruler who would crush their enemies and lead them to peace and security. He would certainly be favored by God, because, otherwise, he could not accomplish anything. They’d had bad experiences of kings chosen by God and anointed who’d later let it get to their heads and turned on God and on them. The Messiah would be different. David had led them to unparalleled prosperity and the prophet Nathan promised him, on God’s behalf, that his descendant would usher in an even greater prosperity without end and be a “son” to God (see 2 Sam 7).

The Jews didn’t take this “son of God” thing too literally; it was just a way of expressing that the king was favored by God. Little did they realize that God did mean it literally: God the Son would be the Messiah. God would save them in Person. God himself had come to extricate them from the mess they’d made through their sins. He didn’t send an angel or some functionary to do it; he came himself. What does that say for what we mean to him? God cares for us in a way that we never imagined possible before his Incarnation and Birth.

The fact that God himself was the Messiah meant more than simply packing a greater wallop when it came time to conquer evil and sin definitively. The Word made baby had started working nine months ago in his mother’s womb. He didn’t invite a queen to be his Mom (although she was, for other reasons). He didn’t make sure to get to a palace to be born. He didn’t decide to just appear full grown on a cloud of glory, flanked by legions of angels, to get the job done and then pop right back up to Heaven. His Incarnation and lowly birth also make the path that he plans to tread dawn on us, a path we should also follow: humility and love. Mary is a queen when it comes to humility and love, and Joseph epitomized these virtues as well.

Even in being raised as a human Our Lord didn’t want a silver spoon, but the humility and love of his creatures, the creatures he chose to be his parents. Do we imagine God himself as humility and love? If the most powerful being we know is characterized by his humility and love, what does that say about us when we don’t live those virtues? Our ambitions need an overhaul.

We gaze upon the Eucharist too and realize how much it reflects his humility and love: just as he was born a defenseless baby, dependent on us for everything, he comes down into his creature’s hands under the semblance of bread and wine and trusts us to do right by him.

Christmas is a time to remember how God cares for us, and how humble and loving he truly is. Let this realization “dawn” on you this Christmas season and overhaul your expectations and ambitions accordingly. It will not only make Our Lord happy, but you as well.

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