Christmas Paradoxes


Homily for Dec. 25, Christmas Mass during the day

A popular secular Christmas carol says that “Christmas is the warmest time of the year.” The first time you hear that line, maybe at a department store while you are wrapped up in a sweater and a winter coat, you think the writer is either insane or living in Brazil. Then you realize it’s just a sort of play on words, a metaphor, and not a real paradox. The truth is, to have a really good paradox you have to bring God into the picture. Paradoxes depend on there being a very big contrast or apparent distance between two things that are put together into one, and there is no contrast on earth bigger than that between God – who is spiritual, eternal, perfect, all-powerful, and all-knowing – and the created world, which is material, limited, and changing.

Christmas truly is all about contrast and paradox. That really shines in today’s Gospel. The Word, Who had no beginning, began to be a human being. The Eternal Light of God through Whom the world was created, came into the world and was born in darkness. God became a Child, so we might become children of God. The little Baby Jesus in the cradle joins the highest with the lowest: Almighty and Righteous God with the nature of sinful humanity that had turned away from God. He, the Way, the Truth and the Life, came to be falsely accused and die so that we, who were dead in our sin, might share His Life.

Perhaps we have become accustomed to these paradoxes, but it took centuries for theologians to develop a well thought-out explanation of these truths revealed in divinely inspired texts like John the Evangelist’s gospel that we read today. In a way, this is a sign of how much God loves us: He Who is infinitely wise is willing almost to bend the rules of logic in order to show His love and save us from our sins. The power of this love, in the Child born in Bethlehem, has transformed the world. “From His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

Today we celebrate this wonderful contradiction of God being born as an infant – a contradiction that brings us light and understanding, because in it the Son reveals to us the Father’s love and glory. When we leave the church today after Mass, let’s be sure to take this light and joy with us, so that, like John the Baptist, we may testify to the light. And may we all have a spiritually warm and truly Merry Christmas!

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About Matthew Green

I am a translator, origami artist/teacher, and photographer, a blogger, former philosophy professor, and I love to sing. You can see my photos on Flickr and buy prints of some of them on Fine Art America. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter (@mehjg), and in various and sundry other social media sites on the web.
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