Isaiah, in our first reading, is talking about a time when God will live with His people. Then it actually happened. God did break into human affairs physically. He became human like us in all things except sin. And, all of humanity should have rejoiced. But, only a few shepherds did because the rest of humankind was busy. Busy with more important things and would not stop for the baby. It has been that way ever since.
Even when we know He is coming, even when we set aside a special time of preparation. We fill it with cards, shopping, gifts and all good things. But, we forget it is all about the baby. Once in a while someone remembers like St. Paul, who just could not get over the fact that Jesus came, that God became human. And, that He was coming again. He kept repeating, “Rejoice, be thankful, be prepared.” And, they did for a while, then they forgot again.
Why do people forget certain things, even when they are reminded? Because they do not really hear them. Some people do not hear certain things; it is called “functional deafness.” A nice way of saying that people hear what they want to. None of us likes to hear things that hurt. Especially things they cannot do much about. Who wants to hear that they have a serious illness or a loved one is dying? So often, we do not want to hear these things, because we just cannot handle them.
Perhaps, that is why so many people have difficulty hearing about a Baby born 2000 years ago. A Baby who was sent for the rise and fall of many. And, we know how most people feel about rising and falling. We cannot handle it. The Baby was a light shining in the darkness and you know how dark things hate to have the spotlight thrown on them. We cannot handle it. The Baby became a simple honest Man, who shot straight as an arrow through a crooked world.
He did what He was supposed to do among clever people who did what they wanted to do. And, our world has never quite discovered what to do with a simple, honest person. They cannot be bought, sold or used. They are practically worthless, except to wonder at or talk about or get rid of. So they did, you see, they cannot handle Him. Jesus was unique, one of a kind. He is one of a kind in His origin, birth, character, teaching, miracles, death and resurrection. But we have not told all the story.
Truth, you see, is not really truth until it is experienced. Until it becomes part of us, until it is lived, felt, thought, laughed and cried. Grief, for instance, can be explained, described and analyzed. Its chemistry and psychology laid bare. But until we lose someone we love, we do not know the truth about grief. Love can be explained, described, and analyzed. Its chemistry and psychology laid bare. But until we love, until we give ourselves to another. We do not know the truth about love.
The uniqueness of Jesus Christ can similarly be explained, described, analyzed, documented and proved. But until He becomes a part of our life experience we really will not understand His uniqueness. The uniqueness of Jesus Christ is understood by a husband and father who stops drinking and transforms the money he would spend on drink into food. The uniqueness of Christ is understood by a businessman who has found a larger purpose in life than climbing another rung on the corporate ladder.
The uniqueness of Christ is understood by a busy mother whose fifteen minutes a day in prayer and meditation give her strength and stamina to carry on. A twenty-five-year-old cancer victim who comforts those who have come to comfort her. Millions of people rich and poor, male and female, young and old. Millions have found Jesus to be one of a kind. They have found that He gives a joy in living that entertainment cannot produce. They have found that He provides the peace of mind that tranquilizers cannot give.
They have found that He supplies a moral rudder in today’s confusing sea of conflicting ideologies. The Lord is coming, prepare a path for Him in your life, others can point the way. Only Jesus, the Child who was born in straw surrounded by shepherds who were created by Him and that star was His toy. And for a brief moment in time, we can see our God as a child who would grow up and say, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”