Christianity is unlike any other religion.
Other religions claim to offer a path to finding God. By following a set of principles or repeating various rituals, they claim to reveal knowledge about God. It all starts with the individual who takes the initiative to look for a Deity who is hiding either within themselves or out in the world somewhere.
Christianity is vastly different. It is not about our search for God. Rather it is about God’s search for us. Our Heavenly Father is the one who takes the initiative to look for us. We do not have to search high and low to find a God who is hiding from us. He already knows us and wants a relationship with us. To find out the truth about God, we do not have to rummage through libraries piecing together information about Him. Rather, He has revealed everything about Himself to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.
We learned this beautiful mystery of God’s love and concern for us from our Jewish brothers and sisters. Consider the story of Adam and Eve from the book of Genesis. When they had succumbed to the serpent’s temptation, they did not run to God to ask for forgiveness. Rather they hid. It was God who went into the garden to look for them, crying out “Where are you?”
The same is true for each of us. If we were to be honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that the story of our lives is not that God has been hiding from us but that we have been hiding from God. The good news is that it is never too late for us to emerge from the bushes, cry out “Here I am”, and let God find us.
Today’s beautiful feast reminds us in striking fashion how God takes the initiative in searching for us.
Consider what happened in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. This God who created heaven and earth, who has existed from all eternity who dwells in blinding light, was born a poor baby. Why? Because He wanted us to know Him. He wanted us to see and touch Him. He wanted us to be able to hear His voice. But most importantly, He wanted to be loved by us.
Our second reading from the letter to the Hebrews touches on this mystery. God revealed Himself in the past through the law and prophets of the Old Testament. He sent human messengers to teach us about His love. However, on Christmas day, He sent His Son, the image of His glory. This Son is the one Word unveiling the mystery of God. When we look at Jesus, we see God Himself. When we hear Jesus, we hear God Himself. Our Heavenly Father is no longer hiding. Rather He is among us in the person of Jesus Christ.
Consider also the life of Jesus. Since He was the one with all the knowledge of God and who possessed the power to heal, He could have simply stayed in His home in Nazareth and waited for people to come to Him. There is no doubt that they would have come in droves. But He did something different. He went throughout the countryside seeking out the lost. He went to the seashore and found fishermen to follow Him. He went through the city streets looking for tax collectors and prostitutes to share God’s love with. Finally, He went to Jerusalem where He made Himself an offering for our sins on the cross. He did it all so that every obstacle keeping us from God could be cleared away. He did it because He loves us and He wants us to love Him in return.
The purpose of our lives, then, is not to find God but to let Him find us. It means stopping in the tracks of our hectic lives so that God can catch up to us. It means turning off the television, computer and radio so that we can hear Him calling out to us. It means clearing out all the clutter from our lives so that God can find a place to sit and be with us. It means taking our focus off all the small and petty things that take place every day so that we can look up and see His hand reaching out to us.
Consider this as well. God is love. We are not searching for love, then. Love is searching for us. God gives meaning to life. We are not searching for meaning, then. Meaning is searching for us. God is Truth. We are not searching for Truth, then. Truth is searching for us. If in the secret of your hearts you are longing for love, meaning our truth, then know that it is God calling out to you. All you need to say is, “Here I am, Lord.” and let Him do the rest.
God is not far from us. He is not hiding or playing games with us. Rather He is among us. He has made Himself known through Jesus Christ and the Church which He founded. We hear Him speak in the Scriptures and we touch Him through the mystery of the Eucharist. His love is near to us. This feast of Christmas proves it. The wait is over. God has visited His people. Let us rejoice and be glad.