Jesus’ life began in a stable and ended on the cross between two criminals. The Apostle Paul said he wanted to proclaim nothing but this crucified Christ. We too, have nothing to hold on to except this Christ. We must ask ourselves again and again: Are we willing to go his way, from the stable to the cross? As disciples we are not promised comfortable and good times. Jesus says we must deny ourselves and suffer with him and for him. That is the only way to follow him, but behind it lies the glory of life – the glowing love of God, which is so much greater than our hearts and our lives.
The way from Bethlehem leads inevitably to Golgotha, from the crib to the cross. When Mary the mother of Jesus brough him to the temple, Simeon prophesied that her soul would be pierced by a sword, that the child was set for the fall and resurrection of many, for a sign that would be contradicted. His prophecy announced the passion, the fight between light and darkness that already showed itself from the cradle. The meaning of Christmas is thus the coming down of God’s love. This love alone revolutionises our lives. Only God’s love, not the elevation of human souls, can effect a transformation of the world.
The peace on earth the angels proclaimed is reconciliation with God. It is brought about by the coming of Christ into our poverty. In John’s words: Herein is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us. 1 John 4:10