On this Christmas morning as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I’d like to pose a question: What would it take for God to win over your heart? I mean really win over your heart, so much so that he becomes the center of your life? Allow me to tell a story that you may already be familiar with about a king and how he won over the heart of His queen.
There was a king who lived alone in his palace. Although the king was rich he was lonely and longing for a wife with whom he could share his life. One day while riding through the streets the king saw the most beautiful woman he had ever seen; she was poor, a peasant girl. Each day he rode past her house with hopes of catching a glimpse of her. But the king had a problem: how could he win over her heart? Since he was the king he could command her to become his queen, but forcing her to love him wouldn’t be real love. He could appear before her dressed in his regal attire in an attempt to sweep her off her feet, but then he would never be sure whether she had married him only for his power and riches. Finally, he came upon the perfect plan. He abandoned his palace and riches, put on the clothes of a peasant and went to live among them. After working with them, celebrating with them, and sharing in their sufferings he won the heart of the peasant girl and she became his bride. You see, in order to win over the peasant girl’ heart, the king became one like her. The king became a peasant so that the peasant could become a queen.
What would it take for God to win over your heart? Let’s look at what God has already done to win over our hearts, all of which are brought to our attention the readings for Christmas Day. First, God has acted in creation. The Word of God is the creator and the sustainer of the universe. God created everything out of nothing and gave it order and meaning. Whatever scientific theory might explain the origin of the universe, behind it is the mind and power of God. Each and every one of us has been created in the image and likeness of God who sustains us. God our King created our hearts so that He can win them over! God our King created us so that we can live with Him in His heavenly palace forever! God’s self-communication or revelation began with creation and was made full in His second act.
Second, God has acted in the Incarnation. Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus. As John says in the Gospel, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus is fully divine as the Word of God and is also fully human. He was born of a human mother, he worked with human hands, he thought with a human mind, he acted with a human will, and he loved with a human heart. God our King, deserving of and capable of coming into the world in splendor and majesty, was born in poverty. His mother was a poor, young girl who had traveled over 80 miles on a donkey before giving birth. He was born in a manger surrounded by animals. His first visitors were poor, uneducated, lowly shepherds. He grew in wisdom and age and grace while experiencing human trials and temptations just like us, but without sin. He was the light of the world but rejected by humanity’s darkness. In the garden He pleaded with the Father to let the cup of suffering and death pass; on the cross he cried out with feelings of abandonment. In the words of Saint Paul, “He became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty we might become rich.” His poverty made Him accessible to each and every one of us, regardless of our stature or circumstances in this world. If you feel tempted, so did Jesus. If you feel rejected, so did Jesus. If you feel misunderstood, so did Jesus. If you feel abandoned, so did Jesus. If you have cried because of the loss of a loved one, so did Jesus. In the words of Saint Athanasius on the Incarnation…”God became man so that man could have a share in the divine life of God!”
Finally, God has acted in the Paschal Mystery. The Paschal Mystery is simply a way of referring to the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. By His passion and death, Jesus has freed us from sin. By His Resurrection, Jesus conquered death and opened up for us the way to new life. God has unlocked the gates of heaven that were locked by the sin of Adam so that we can rejoin Him in paradise. And Jesus gave us the Eucharist as the memorial of His passion, death and Resurrection, as a way of remembering the extent of His love for us.
So what would it take for God to win over your heart, so much so that He becomes the center of your life? We’ve seen how He has acted to allow us to become children of God. The question that remains for each of us: are God’s gifts of Creation, the Incarnation, and the Paschal Mystery enough to win over your heart?