Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace. -Luke 1:78
We find in this passage from Luke on Christmas Eve a beautiful meditation on the reason for the season.
It starts with one of the most passionate and tender words for the compassion of God in the Greek New Testament. The Greek word for tender compassion is splagchnon. What the word means is our innermost parts. What we feel rises from the depths of our being. It means God’s feelings for us come from the depths of His Being. The Divine decision to share our human nature is the most stupendous creation of God. It is the most astonishing design He could plan for our poor humanity. He “visits” us. In the inspired Greek text “visit” comes from the word skeptomai (to look carefully, consider)and epi (upon). The loving eye of God smiles on us. This is “peace”! It is a beautiful thing to be kissed by God!
Christ is like the sunrise shining on us and obliterating the deep darkness of our lives! When He took on our nature He become vulnerable and incredibly close to us. A very early Scriptural verse in Phil 2:5f wonderfully articulates this for us. “Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
The Almighty God, Who keeps billions of galaxies in existence, shows us how much our little lives matter to Him. This is the wonder of Christmas! It is beautifully expressed in Titus 3:4f “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy.” “Kindness” has to be one of the most meaningful descriptions of God. Don’t you love a kind person!
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.