It is no accident that God the Son taking a human nature like ours reveals himself to us as a baby. When you look at a baby, you are entranced, something inside you just responds: so cute, look at his little cheeks, oh he opened his eyes, he’s smiling, can I hold him?, everything about you wants to care for that child to love him, protect him, to keep him safe, there is a deep understanding of the innocence of that baby, of the love he represents, how peaceful he looks in his mothers arms of the precious wonder and goodness of life and of the mystery of motherhood. It is as if the baby summons, calls forth love even from the hardest of hearts.
My sister would point out to me that that, however, is where Uncles often stop. Mums and Dads and Grandparents know that the love the baby calls forth full involves hard work and sacrifice. Changing nappies, sleepless nights, earning money to feed and cloth them, worrying about them, fighting for them and sometimes fighting with them. A life long tale of love which costs, love which can be hard, love which is often returned but sometimes betrayed. But always a love which is the whole point, the whole purpose of life.
Now the little baby whose birth we celebrate tonight/today is God, how we react to a little baby now, gives us a clue, a small taste of how we react to the love of God revealed in the manger at Bethlehem, and how the love of God calls to each of us, even to the most hardened of hearts.
Of course because this baby is the love of God made flesh then that love must involve sacrifice – the wood of the manger is the wood of the cross – only after Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday can we fully understand Christmas Day, but in its wisdom the Church which is the body of Christ and therefore like him Divine but human too, offers today’s feast with great simplicity and welcome, even to the hardest of hearts. As a man like us Jesus has the same joy we have in beholding a new born baby, and he bids us share that joy with him today.
If we do stay with this child, recognise him in His body the Church in the sacraments, especially Holy Communion, then we will also come know the sacrifices and service and obedience that true love entails. But whatever the future holds, rejoice tonight/today in the love revealed in this new born babe, who has called each of us to be here and who with all his being desires us to know him and love him.