[Editor’s Note: The passage below is from Divine Intimacy by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D (Baronius Press), originally published in 1963. Merry Christmas!]
God is charity: He has loved us with an everlasting love!
“I think God must have said to Himself: Man does not love Me because he does not see Me; I will show Myself to him and thus make him love Me. God’s love for man was very great and had been great from all eternity, but this love had not yet become visible…. Then, it really appeared; the Son of God let Himself be seen as a tiny Babe in a stable, lying on a little straw” (St. Alphonsus).
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This is the mystery of the Nativity; this is St. Paul’s exultant cry: “The grace of God our Savior hath appeared to all men…. The goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared” (cf Titus 2:11-15 – 3:4-7). These are the blessed tidings “of great joy” brought by the Angel to the shepherds; “This day is born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” (cf Luke 2:1-14).
The texts in today’s liturgy, following each other in tones of increasing exultation, sing the praises of the sweet Child Jesus, the Word made Man, living and breathing among us: “Whom have you seen, O shepherds? Speak and tell us who has appeared on earth? We saw the new-born Child and choirs of angels loudly praising the Lord” (Roman Breviary). “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth exult in the presence of the Lord!” (Roman Missal), Our God is here in the midst of us, He has become one of us. “A Child is born to us, a Son is given to us…. His name is Admirable, God, Prince of peace, Father of the world to come!… Rejoice, O daughter of Sion, sing, O daughter of Jerusalem…. Rejoice, ye inhabitants of the earth! Come, ye nations, adore the Lord!” (Roman Breviary).
Come! Come, adore, listen, and rejoice! Jesus, the Word of the Father, speaks to us a wonderful word: God loves you!
The three Christmas Masses place before us a majestic picture: the touching description of the birth of Jesus as man alternates with the sublime one of the eternal birth of the Word in the bosom of the Father; and there are also allusions to Christ’s birth in our souls by grace.
However, this three-fold birth is but one single manifestation of God who is Charity. No one on earth could know God’s love; but the Word, who is in the bosom of the Father, knows it and can reveal it to us. The Word was made flesh and has shown to us the love of God. Through the Word, God’s incomprehensible, invisible charity is made manifest and tangible in the sweet little Babe, who from the manger holds out His arms to us.
Today’s preface solemnly declares it: “O eternal God, because of the mystery of the Word made flesh, the light of Thy glory hath shone anew upon the eyes of our mind: that while we acknowledge Him to be God visible, He may draw us to the love of things invisible.”
Yes, this “Child, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger” is our God, who, for us, has made Himself visible: our God, who shows us in the most concrete way His infinite charity. One cannot contemplate little Jesus without being captivated and enraptured by the infinite love which has given Him to us. The Infant Jesus reveals to us God’s love, He manifests it in the clearest, most touching way.
St. Paul says in the Epistle of the Third Mass (Heb 1:1-12): “God, in these days hath spoken to us by His Son…the brightness of His glory, and the figure of His substance.”
Jesus, in the Incarnate Word, in His silence as a helpless Child, speaks to us and reveals to us the substance of God: His charity.
[Image: “The Nativity” by Lorenzo Monaco, c. 1410]