Catholic News Service
A girl in St. Peter's Square holds baby Jesus figurines for Pope Francis to bless during his Angelus at the Vatican Dec. 15.
Catholic News Service
A girl in St. Peter's Square holds baby Jesus figurines for Pope Francis to bless during his Angelus at the Vatican Dec. 15.
The feast we celebrate Dec. 25 should stun us. The Lord of the universe not only chose to become human, but was born poor, among animals and dung in a stable.

He could have arrived as a king, or a grown man. But Jesus came among us the way we all appear — as a child who needed his parents, who sprouted teeth painfully, who haltingly learned to walk, who played with sticks and rocks, who stubbed his toes, who made friends.

When we gaze at nativity scenes, the Incarnation looks cute. It is. But it didn’t stay there. Jesus, the God-man, emptied himself and became as a slave, as St. Paul tells us. He taught and grew tired. He welcomed children to sit around him. He wept when his friend Lazarus died. The Supreme Being laughed and cried at what makes us laugh and cry.

We believe Jesus was no deity in a man costume, but was like us in all ways but sin. He was not required to go through what we humans experience, but did so out of an abundance of love. And when God became human, human experience was blessed.

We Christians have never been dualists, unhinging souls from bodies. We take our bodies seriously. We use them always modestly as signs of our belief. We look out for the corporeal needs of others. We believe that our resurrection will include our bodies in glorified form. In short, matter matters for us. It’s all because of the Incarnation, marked by the holy season that is upon us.  

People may accuse us of raining on their jolly holiday parades, but Christians should remember that the Incarnation led to the cross, by which our salvation was worked.

God’s plan for bringing the world back to him is all of a piece, as the wonderful genealogies of the gospels tell us. This moment we celebrate had its roots in the ancestors of Jesus, in the Jewish people and in the very creation of the world. And so salvation came through history, through flesh.