December 25, 2015 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause
December 25, 2015
Fr. George Smiga
The birth of Jesus was no big deal. It happened without notice or fanfare in the world of its time. The emperor of Rome did not know that it happened, nor did the high priest in Jerusalem, nor even the mayor of Bethlehem. Anyone who might have noticed the birth would not have been very impressed. A child was born to a working-class family who had been displaced from their home and took up lodging in a barn. This might have been unfortunate, but it certainly was not that important. Although the angels greeted the birth of the child with “Glory to God,” most people of that time would have responded with, “So what?” The birth of Jesus was an ordinary and seemingly insignificant event.
Today, of course, we gather with millions of people throughout the world to celebrate that event. We blow trumpets and sing our praises to God. But as we do so, we should remember how this celebration began. It began with the simple birth of a homeless child. Jesus’ simple and humble beginnings are a reminder to us that God can take what is small and ordinary and use it for God’s own purposes. God can take what seems to be insignificant and use it to change the world.
This is an important truth to hear and believe, because all too often we wonder whether the good things that we try to do will make any difference. There may be problems in our family: a son or daughter who never seems able to find happiness, a brother or a sister dealing with alcoholism, an elderly parent losing the will to live. We try to help. We offer our advice, our love, and our presence. But the things that we do seem so small and weak compared to the problems that beset us. Christmas tells us not to lose hope. Our actions may be small and ordinary, but it is not yet clear how God might use them.
There are problems in our world: poverty, war, ignorance, and political dysfunction. We want to do something. So we bring a Christmas basket to someone in need. We volunteer to teach children to read. We stand up at work in opposition to someone who is promoting prejudice. But these actions seem so commonplace and ineffective compared to what our world needs. Christmas tells us that we should not despair. God can take our small actions and make them more significant than we can imagine.
We believe in a God who takes what is small and weak and uses it to save the world. The Christmas story tells us that the Christian story began in that way. So we should embrace the confidence that story reveals. Love your family. Care for those who suffer. Work for justice in our world. And do not be discouraged when your actions appear small and insignificant. It is not yet clear how God may choose to use them.