Children are being born all the time, so one might think there’s nothing special about it. But the birth of a child is special for those involved. Maybe all the other births happening all the time are ordinary, but the birth of one’s own child or the child of someone close to us is indeed special with all the hopes and fears the event arouses.
But the birth we celebrate at Christmas is both more special and unique than all other births. As with all other human births, a human being has into the world, a helpless human being who was totally dependent on the care of other people. If such care is not present, the newborn child will not survive long enough to grow up.
But this time, the human being is also God. That doesn’t compute. God is supposed to be the Master of the Universe, totally in charge and in need of nothing from nobody. If God can and does whatever God wills, as Psalm 135 says, than God could only have become a helpless newborn child by willing to do just that. Why would God do such a thing? Theologians, starting with St/ Paul, say that God became a human being in order to save the world. Indeed, Jesus’ dying on the cross and being raised from the dead is believed to have saving consequences for humankind. But the fact that Jesus was killed by humans in early adulthood makes it clear that, although he was/is God, Jesus was just as vulnerable and killable as any other human being. But what if Jesus had not been nurtured and protected as in infant? What then? Fortunately, we don’t have to explore that question further as we knew that at least Jesus grew up into early adulthood. But only because he was cared for in his most vulnerable years. This vulnerability on the part of Jesus has everything to do with how salvation works
There are many ways in which the Incarnation of our Lord can be said to have turned the world upside down. One of the most startling ways the Incarnation has done this is that, although we all depend on God for our very existence and for sustaining us in being, God has turned the tables by making Godself dependent on us. Mary and Joseph and probably a few other people held Jesus in their arms. In our devotions, we can imagine ourselves holding the baby Jesus in our arms, tenderly consoling him for any discomfort he might feel and trying to make it better. If anybody, such as Herod, should try to harm this helpless child, we would do anything possible to protect him.
The fact that God has entered humanity and become as dependent on other people jas ll other people deepens profoundly the notion that all people depend on other people and all people should cherish and protect everybody else.. That is, God has made every person, every newborn child, special.