It is the season of joy! Treasure the opportunity you have to listen to the beautiful music. Share the rich warmth of family and friendship. Offer gifts to friends, loved ones and people in need. Echo the refrain, ’Tis the most wonderful time of the year!
Yet, step back from the glitter and glamour so evident in some places during these days and take one good long look at the image of the child in the manger. Does it not provide a powerful stimulus for us to revisit the nature of powerlessness?
This child is wrapped in the robes of mystery. This tiny child is God made flesh before our very eyes. He is omnipotence wrapped in strips of cloth, omnipresence placed to a drinking trough for animals, omniscience confined to a bed of straw!
This little child finds common cause with those who have no place to lay their weary head. At his birth, the trappings of nobility are nowhere to be seen; the signs of privilege have disappeared into oblivion.
The child in the manger is an object lesson in the mystery of powerlessness!
The time would come when this powerless child of Bethlehem would be recognized as the Savior of the world. Whether he was lying in a manger or hanging from a cross, he would appear to be a victim of circumstance, a person to be pitied, and a model of helplessness.
Yet, true power is absent unless it shines forth through the wrappings of powerlessness. Real self emptying and self denial are possible only for those who truly know the power of God. A life of sacrificial service rendered with joy is the only option for those who come to know the powerlessness of the Christ child.
This powerlessness is not to be confused with the helplessness that knows nothing but the misery of desperation. It is instead the submissiveness that consists in voluntary entrance into the community of the homeless poor in order to transform it into a seedbed of rich possibilities. This is the powerlessness that knows the trenches, sits at ease with the dispossessed, and enjoys the company of those pushed to the periphery of society.
What we see in the manger and what we celebrate at Christmastime is the awesome power of powerlessness! When we experience this powerlessness, the Holy Spirit empowers us to truly become the servant of all. Then, through the service we render, we can help transform the world. The little baby in the manger is a powerful sign of God manifesting the divine love that opens the way to life for all the world. He became poor so that we, through his poverty, might become rich (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9).
BWA General Secretary
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