There are many people today who think that everything in the world can be fixed with one of two things, Duct tape and WD 40. If it moves and you don’t want it to move- use the duct tape. If it is supposed to move and it won’t- use the WD 40. Many of us may have used one or both as we put up our Christmas decorations this year do things around the house. But WD 40 and Duct Tape can only go so far. Maybe there is something else needed in the world to make things work better.
There are things, spiritual realities, that duct tape and WD 40 won’t help. How do you fix a broken heart or calm the craziness of life these days, or stop the fights among family members, or the violence in the world? How do you make happy moments last? How do you keep your marriage strong or your children on the right track? We try and we succeed. We try and then we fail. We believe that it is all up to us to make things happen and it is a challenge. We can feel ourselves to spiritually poor and weak. We might feel like those shepherds, alone and isolated. Overwhelmed with responsibility and underwhelmed with solutions. Tonight we discover something different.
The prophet Isaiah tells us that the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. God is announcing to us through the angels some life changing news-Good News, Glorious News. “You have never been alone. I will now give you my Son to show you the meaning of love and to BE the meaning of love. He will open up your life that has been closed and hardened by sin and fear.” He will save you from sin and death. He will pour into your heart the Holy Spirit of his Truth. This Truth is life-giving, creative, encouraging and real.
Jesus, the new born Son of God, reaches out to us with human hands and loves us with a human heart. He knows our hunger and thirst and love and dependence. He is born into the world and placed in a manger as a poor infant, dependent on the love and care of his parents. He has been born to make possible for us new way to live in the world. His way is one of faith and love of God, and loving your neighbor as yourself. His way seeks to unite our anxious, wounded and joyful hearts into his heart. His way is one of humble service and compassion. He will grow in wisdom, age and grace and then preach about the kingdom of his heavenly Father. He will go from laying on the straw and the wood of the manger as an infant to be nailed to the wood of the cross as a man so that God’s true gift of his everlasting love will be revealed to the whole world.
God comes to us as a child to teach us two important lessons. The first lesson is that the poorest people in the world are those who do not know and experience the full love of God in Jesus Christ. That is why God comes to us first. We are the poorest of the people. We have the gift of faith, but we don’t nourish it. We know God is real, but we do not make time for him in our lives. We know what Gods asks from us, but we keep putting off change. The knowledge and friendship with Jesus Christ that we remember as we see this new-born infant shows us that God has not given up on us, but has reached out in the most human way so that we could touch him and be raised to share in his love that surpasses all earthly joys.
The second lesson of this Holy Night is that God has put himself personally into our hands so that we become a manger ourselves for the Body of Christ. He comes to us as a God Himself, veiled under the humble appearances of Bread and Wine so that he can bring us comfort, courage, hope and the desire to love Him even more. If the manger of our hearts is not used, but left empty, it is no wonder we feel empty ourselves. It is no wonder that we listen to those things which will ultimately harm us and tear us apart. It is no wonder we have trouble comforting others when we have felt so little heavenly comfort ourselves.
This great Feast of the Incarnation of the Son of God shows us the love God desires to pour out through Jesus in the Sacraments of his Body the Church. It also teaches us that the answers to the greatest challenges we face in the world cannot be solved by a roll of duct tape and a drop of WD 40. We find our answers in Jesus Christ. We find our path in life by daily prayer, living the moral teachings of Jesus Christ, receiving his Sacraments and telling others about our faith.
We find the answers as the Church, as we face the Lord together in gratitude tonight for the lives we have been given and pray that the Holy Spirit who overshadowed Mary will also overshadow us and give us the courage to embrace Jesus the new born Son of God, and never let him go.