O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

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IMG_1001“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel. Who mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear. Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel. And ransom captive Israel.”

We often forget that we need a savior. Lured by our modern culture to think that we are our own creators, we forget that we are held in the palm of another’s hand. We are imperfect, we are flawed, broken, frail, ignorant, and selfish. We are embarrassed by all of these things. Admitting our frailties to others, even to ourselves, is painful. Like an injured dog we seek to hide from our soul’s injuries in dark corners, biting anyone who comes near, even those who offer a healing hand. We refuse to accept the truth, we close our eyes to the light, we turn inward in our sins.

Because of this, God sent us a Savior. He lowered Himself to bring us closer. He came to us, not as a conqueror at the head of an army; but as an innocent, tender, defenseless child. It may be easy to turn away from Jesus and his teachings if we only ever knew him as a man. In John’s Gospel we know this to be the case:

John 6: 60-70

“Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”

Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you?

What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh* is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.
And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”
As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Many of the disciples left the man, Christ, when his teachings seemed to them too hard to follow. What if they knew him as a babe? What if they had received him in his infancy? Held him in their arms, fed him at table, changed his diapers, protected him from wolves? Would they be so quick to cast him aside in his adulthood? Would they not be more readily willing to listen to his words, no matter how hard they are to hear? Is the care for a child not hard? Isn’t the responsibility of raising and protecting an infant a great challenge? Let us prepare ourselves to receive the child Christ into our lives so that we may know him for completely. When Christ comes to us will our hearts be closed to him as the inn was closed to his parents? Or will he find a warm and welcoming place? If we know him and care for him as a child, it shall show us what we are capable of doing when we face even greater challenges in listening to the man, Christ, our Savior.

May God bless you this Christmas, these coming holy days, and may you welcome him into your hearts. Care for the child, listen to the man.

God’s Peace be with you!