Blessings to you in this season of Christmas! I’m having a wonderful time with my family and my nuns. It has snowed and snowed and snowed here, and Christmas morning you could even see the tracks in the snow left by reindeer!

It is amazing to celebrate yet again the birth of Jesus. The Mystery of the Incarnation — God becoming human — always blows me away. Here you’ve got God — the holy one, the incomprehensible mystery who is beyond our understanding — who desires to draw close to us. God does this not by floating around earth on a cloud with an angelic entourage. (I think that would freak a lot of people out, and in fact the prophets testify to this fact saying that to see the face of God was to die.) Rather, God chooses to become human like us by sending his Son to be born of a human mother, Mary, and to grow up and live and work along side of us. And of all the places in which God could have chosen to enter human history, God chose a humble family living in a rather poor community that was oppressed by foreign invaders. Jesus’ entry into the world was also not exactly what one would expect for the one who would be the savior. Mary and Joseph weren’t even home for the birth of the child. They were on the road traveling to Bethlehem for the required census. And the birth took place not in a hospital or the home of a family member or even in a hotel room — Jesus was born in a stable. He was laid not in a bed fit for a king but in a manger, a trough used to feed animals. And these animals were the first, after Mary and Joseph, to witness the birth of the savior. Scripture tells us that shepherds who had been out tending their flock were the first to visit Jesus. Shepherds were not exactly high society and were generally poor and literally on the fringe of society (they were, after all, outside the cities spending their days taking care of grazing sheep).

So this is how God chose to come to us — born of a humble family in humble circumstances. Jesus would live a life that was considered anything but kingly (in the eyes of the world) yet he would be the savior of the world. God would save us not from the outside in as it were (though God could have) but from the inside out — taking on our humanity, becoming like us in all things (all things!) but sin.

Wow. This never fails to amaze me. Christmas brings me real joy, not just happiness, but joy that the human family, indeed the world, is created with such love and care by this God who though infinite and beyond us, draws close to us and embraces us.

Blessings to you and may the Mystery of the Incarnation sustain you and energize you as we go forth into the new year.