Often, I ask myself if Christmas would be the same or even remain if Jesus presented Himself as He did 2,000 years ago. Certainly if He did, our Christmas holidays would be spoiled or at least marred.
Just think for one moment that Jesus knocks at our door as a homeless refugee, or one with a billet ticket, as a young delinquent just out of jail; or simply as a poor old relative sick and ailing, wanting to be cared for and wishing to die peacefully. Wouldn’t that kill the Christmas spirit fast? Such bother, such nuisance would certainly create strong reactions and complaints! The husband would grumble, the wife would protest the children would ask to be elsewhere to celebrate Christmas in a more joyous and peaceful décor. And then you would be alone with no one to shoulder you.
It is easy for us to tolerate in our Christmas mangers a Jesus made of plaster or sugar: such a Jesus is not bothersome and does not require much care and attention, we don’t even hear Him. But what if it was a real baby, unknown, dirty, sick and noisy. Would we not cringe and lose any religious feeling?
The true Christ, the true God is terribly cumbersome and demanding! They got rid of Him then, as we try to get rid of Him today.
We look at Christmas with some kind of nostalgia. If only we could have lived at the time of Jesus to see, to touch and to welcome Him. How we easily forget that almost everyone did not recognize, love and adore Him. How easily we forget hot time keeps on going and that Jesus is still unknown, still poor and still doubted.
Just think what would have happened if the innkeepers in Bethlehem had known who was knocking at their door. They certainly would have opened it. Were they not religious people like we are? However, they mistook Mary and Jesus for two beggars, two refugees, and two aliens, unwelcome and bothersome. Would we, today, accept them as they were accepted in those days? Are we not too practical, too prudent or too busy to do so? How can God come to us under such a disguise? Is God not absent from our comfortable homes, with all the facilities and gadgets imaginable? God is where we find the poor, the handicap, the elderly, the forgotten and He is with the ones who love and believe.
Will we recognize and welcome Christ this coming Christmas?
Written by Father Menard while in Peru. Specific date unknown.