Tomorrow, I go to church and thank and praise God for the birth of His Son. And I believe He will be listening. Why? The evidence of the early Church, the eyewitness accounts from neutral or even hostile sources, the ever-increasing tangible proof from archaeological digs and the abundant meagerness of the standard objections.
Let us remember the innocent, crying baby born in an occupied and troubled land 2,000 years ago for the sole purpose of dying — which is the great paradox of history. A birth that found ultimate purpose in death. God who came to Earth in the most vulnerable human form. Victory in defeat. Glory in humiliation.
Jesus’s birth probably did not happen in December, but the actual date is largely irrelevant. It is that it happened rather than when it happened that is important. The evidence for His birth and existence is overwhelming, but on Christmas, it is the meaning rather than the information that should concern us.
God had sent prophets, had performed miracles and provided life and happiness for His people, most of whom then chose to ignore Him or worse. Finally, He makes the ultimate sacrifice and becomes one of us. Feels pain, rejection and the cancerous violence that has infected us since the Fall. This is the great Christian narrative.
The nativity, however, is only the fulfillment of God’s plan that began in Nazareth, with Mary accepting her role in the coming of the Messiah. Her humility and her acquiescence are, again, part of that divine paradox. In her pristine submission she is eternally triumphant. The Virgin becomes part of the great underground movement, the queen of the resistance against darkness and death.
How different is the spirit of this woman from the one that is supposed to characterize the contemporary feminine character. My body, my life, my will. Not so with immaculate Mary. My body and life and will, she says, are all the product of God and his love.
God chose a girl to transform history and begin the universe anew, at a time when women could not even give evidence in court of law. God could have made the world believe, made the ground shake, made His Son an obvious king and master. But that would have been force rather than love and would have worked directly against our free will and thus contradicted His devotion to us.
Joseph, Mary’s husband and the stepfather of her Son, defied the prejudice and doubt of his culture and time to surrender to God’s plan for all humanity. How easy and acceptable it would have been for him to leave this pregnant women and to start a different and separate life. Even his willingness to retreat from the centre of the Messianic stage for the birth and childhood of Jesus shows the revolutionary detours of God’s map.
The baby Jesus grows up to tell us that the meek, the peacemakers and the persecuted will inherit the world, not the strong and the powerful. A Messiah born so far away, so long ago, who takes conventional wisdom and understanding and translates it into a language of liberation.
Finally a baby who as a man dies an agonizing and humiliating death for us, only to rise again and to hold out His hand for all time so that by accepting it we will join Him in eternal bliss and completion. The baby becomes a man so that men and women can become as babies and crawl into His arms.
This is what the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas, means to all those who believe and promises to all those who do not. It is why I shall fall to my knees and pray and thank God for the first cries of a baby that echoed around the world and still sound the opening of the gates of paradise.
Michael Coren is a Toronto writer and broadcaster
THAT INFECTED US SINCE THE FALL.
THIS IS THE GREAT CHRISTIAN NARRATIVE