Christmas is the one day in our calendar with 4 distinct masses and 4 sets of readings.
The Vigil with Matthew's Genealogy a beautiful reading if you had time to explain it.
Mass at Midnight or at Night - Luke's Nativity
Mass at Dawn- the Shepherd's then travel to see the child, the continuation of Luke's nativity story
Mass on Christmas Day - the prologue of John's Gospel
But of all these readings the one to which we are instinctively drawn in the gospel from midnight mass, the infant Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. That single image is Christmas.
But why? Why did God come in that way?
Some would say that God wanted to experience all of human life from conception to death. If that was the point then why does the Bible, the inspired word of God, jump from infancy to adulthood, with the exception of the finding in the temple found only in Luke. If the whole human experience were the point why is the majority of his life on earth skipped over? What was so important about his infancy?
I do not pretend to know the mind of God, and anyone who does is a fool. But there are certain almost universal human experiences that tell us about humanity and God. I believe the infancy stories are important for many reason but one of those reasons is that they tell us about the relationship God wants with us.
Some will quote proverbs and tell us that "Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom." But if fear was God's goal, he could have chosen to manifest himself in some much more frightening forms.
When someone walks up to you with an infant where are your eyes drawn? Last week, as I father walked toward me with his child in his arms I consciously tried to look him in the eye, but as he got closer I could not keep from looking at the baby. And when we look at the baby, we smile. This is our natural human reaction and I have watched it happen all over the world.
Ask any parent and they will tell you, they vanish, and our full attention is drawn toward the infant. And no matter how young the baby, we want to interact. Even when we know the smile is probably just gas, it makes us happy.
Infants are bundles of irresistible love. We are drawn to them like magnets. They bring out the best in us. In them we glimpse the pure love of God. We don't even have to see one. If you stop right now and think new born baby, something in you will smile.
Today as we celebrate the birth of Christ, let us open our hearts and allow that pure love of God to be reborn in us today.