Mary … was expecting a child … time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son … there were shepherds in the fields nearby … An angel of the Lord appeared to them … (and) said “… a Savior has been born to you … a baby … in a manger.”

Lk 2: 5,6,8,9,11,12

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A baby is born.  Yes, a baby.

A baby appears as a Savior.  A vulnerable infant dependent on us is one upon whom we may depend.

I recently met my month old grandson Jack.  I saw how his presence transformed by son and my daughter-in-law from husband and wife to father and mother – and then again into family.

Yes, a baby – an infant worked a transformation.  Changed two wonderful and highly educated people into something more – something that only a baby can do.

This made me think of the indescribable, incalculable, extraordinary power and mystery in conception, in birth, in a baby … and in the birth of Jesus.

Likewise I think of Thomas Merton’s short reflective essay “Life in Christ” in which he reminds us of the indwelling Christ in each of us.  And I think of the remarkable spontaneous Christmas “truce” between warring English and German soldiers in the trenches of World War I and their initiation of peace and sharing that stopped the war, at the consternation of their commanders, at Christmas time a century.

What might I mean by linking the birth of Christ with Merton’s essay and this spontaneous Christmas peace of the early last century?

We have all been a baby once just as Jesus, too, was a baby.  Each of us has been formed and carried within.  Merton reminds us that Christ resides within us as he did within Mary, his mother.  Indeed, the spontaneous Christmas truce between warring soldiers in horrific and bloody trench warfare was born from within the hearts and souls of adversaries intent on killing one another, fighting to their death in daily assaults, gas attacks, machine-gun fire and cannon salvos.

It is the child within, the Christ in us that we must be.  That is the source of what good we are made to be.

We are often distracted and led to the world at large – drawn to “change” and “improvement” and “progress” in the world cobbled together by “educated” adults determined to proceed under their own power and “wit” and “cunning.”

But it was no clever adult that made my son and his wife a father and a mother, or made them a family.  It was a child …

How we miss the obvious in favor of ourselves.  A baby.  Focus on this.  At least ponder this on the eve of this Child born in a manger.

Awaken in you the miracle that we celebrate in Christmas.

All around us our behavior tells us how misguided and lost we are and how fundamentally we are changed for the better by simply focusing on this Child, and on each newborn child and the Christ within us – once a small baby delivered as if to say: we are – each – a small child, a child of God.

Focus on the obvious – a baby born unto you.

Shalom.

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