The way in which the Christmas story is depicted nowadays can make it seem like a story just for children, magical even. The advent of Santa Claus as a major Christmas character reinforces that perception. What can then happen is that we adults get caught up in a kind of nostalgia for childhood, wearing rose-tinted glasses as we do so. And so, Christmas can become a collective trip down memory lane, to remember just ourselves and indulge our emotions.
But Christmas is not just a story. It is the Story. It is the story without which hi-story itself is ultimately meaningless. As a boy in the mid-sixties I loved the American TV programme, “Lost in Space.” (It tells of the dangerous space exploration adventures of a family.) Well, lost in space would well describe the human race if the Christmas story were just a story. We would indeed be insignificant and of no consequence in this universe. We could only comfort ourselves for a brief life-span on earth with childish nostalgia and with the products of science and technology. We would live imprisoned in our emotions and our senses and death would mean oblivion.
But because the Christmas story is the definitive, new beginning of human history, it changes everything. For if we may seem insignificant to ourselves in the face of the vast expanse of space and time, Christmas tells us that we are in fact the most significant reality in the created universe. To the point that the Creator, the One who holds all things in existence in himself by his divine power, becomes one of us. Not as a fable, but in truth. And by becoming one of us, He has united himself to each of us since we are all brothers and sisters in humanity.
You might even say that the Son of God is now gladly lost, not in space, but in humanity, delighting to be among us. Why? Well, why else? The reason is love. In the end, there can be no other reason. In selfless, everlasting love He came to be with us, to save us and to set in motion the transformation of the universe itself, starting with our own bodies. His divinity was hidden in his humanity, but like a divine Trojan horse, his humanity lets out its divine energy and love until, one day, his divinity will be made manifest in glory throughout the whole of creation.
Divine love enters us in myriad ways but especially in those seven supreme ways we call the sacraments. Through them, creation channels into us the Creator. Above all, he smuggles his divinity into us through the Eucharist. He became flesh to become bread, the bread of life. He became bread to be eaten and to transform us into what we eat in faith and love. He became man that we might become God.
Every Christmas therefore extends to us the welcome of God, a welcome to join his story, the Story, the only story in which our personal stories and collective history can find true fulfilment. So, whoever you are, whatever your circumstances of life, however difficult or dark, stretch out your hands and throw open your hearts once more to accept his humble welcome. Don’t get lost in your own space, but let Christmas draw you into the eternal expanse of divine love. Be nostalgic for God and find your home in Him.