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Wonder of a newborn lying in a manger

December 24, 2006
From the Toronto Sun
Christmas takes our breath away every year and we never tire of celebrating it! But did you ever stop to realize that Christmas is the day when God inaugurated a holy confusion on earth?
The days are now over when God is in some far away heaven while we wallow in the mud of the earth. God is no longer in the glory of a temple, but in a stable -- a little Jewish baby who no longer speaks through solemn oracles and pronouncements -- but now in an infant's whimper. Those who draw near to God no longer remove their sandals, like Moses in the Sinai, but stand before this incredible scene in wonderment and awe, marvelling at the "newborn child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" (Luke 2:7).
On Christmas night the wall of separation between heaven and earth comes tumbling down, and the only thing that exists between heaven and earth is confusion -- and shalom (peace).
The angels in a field outside Bethlehem invite poor, tired, and startled shepherds to an eternal feast of peace. Tonight, the pure and impure, saints and sinners, adults and children, wise folks and even the strange are all the same. There are no distinctions!
No one wears uniforms or habits tonight. Everyone renounces privileges just to be part of such an incredible feast. And the most remarkable thing about tonight is God has gotten into the act with Mary and Joseph.
God has become flesh, the Word has become history, our history. The inexhaustible, ground-of-our-being, all-powerful, almighty, totally-other God has taken on human weakness. Imagine!
So why should we be concerned tonight if there is a bit of confusion of symbols, places, people, classes, heaven and earth? It's God himself who has caused it! The time will soon come to put things back into their places after this feast. The shepherds will have to return to their flocks, and the Holy Family will begin their journey into exile in Cairo, or maybe only as far as Gaza.
A church community will grow up around this feast, with all of its rules and regulations, distinctions and distractions, splendours and truths, shadows and sins.
Manuals, catechisms and codes will be written and theologians will reflect and write, speculate and be silenced.All will put their uniforms back on and God himself will return to his little tabernacle.
Nevertheless, the memory will linger of this incredible feast, the feast of holy confusion ... a memory that will forever put our boundaries and horizons, our rules and our hierarchies, into the proper perspective.
PROFOUND MESSAGE
For this feast reminds humanity of one profound message: That God has mixed with the human family, and loved it. And only God, himself, knows who is close and who is far from him. From now on, we can recognize God, not in the power and glory of our temple worship, our power, prestige and numbers. On Christmas night we are taught where to find God: in the midst of humanity, in the thick and thin of the human race, in the smiles and tears of a baby, in the suffering of strangers, in the cherished gift of friendship.
From now on, anyone who really understands that God has become human will never be able to speak and act in an inhuman way. And so, watch out everyone: tonight the Son of God is on the loose, and he is coming to surprise the inhabitants of the house of bread (Bethlehem) and the city of peace (Jerusalem), with some very good news: that we are loved without limit or condition, in our greatness and in our misery, in our folly and in our virtue. And the best part of the story is this: God has come among us this night, and is here to stay!
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