As a psychology major in college, my understanding of biology and chemistry was (and is) tenuous at best. I remember the day we were reviewing the research that had led to our model of DNA, the so-called “building blocks of life.” We stood around the double-helix model as our professor detailed the way that DNA works. To me, it was a pure miracle. I wanted to shout, “Here is the proof for our Creator God!” Surely, only God could have made the world work in this delicate, precise way. After all these years, I might understand DNA just a tiny bit better, but it will always be a miracle to me.
There are countless profound miracles all around us every single day. They exist whether we realize them or acknowledge them as miracles. Sometimes we mistakenly believe that the world revolves around us. But it’s we who revolve around the miracles. A sunrise. A butterfly’s wing. The curve of a baby’s cheek. In all our human endeavors, we can’t duplicate any of these miracles. Because at the heart of creation is something even more unknowable. The mystery of God Himself. The Creator of the universe, Who lived and died as one of us, His creatures. But why?
Why would an omnipotent, all-knowing God leave heaven to live as a man? And not as a rich and powerful man, born into the privilege of an easy, modern life of wealth and power, but born in an animal’s feed trough, in a poor, occupied outpost of the Roman Empire. He was a Jew in a land where Jews were the problem. And He was even a problem for His fellow Jews, especially for the king who viewed this baby as a threat to his kingship. So, to escape being killed, St. Joseph was forced to take Jesus and the Blessed Mother out of the country until things quietened down. Why would God choose such a humble and fearful childhood for His Son?
The only answer is love. You see, our God is not like any other god. No other religion describes a god who loves his children so much that he suffers for them, in their place. In fact, most gods are known for their fickle cruelty, quick tempers and easily-offended sensibilities. They spend a lot of their time watching their subjects from afar so they can be ready to punish or strike them dead when they mess up. But the God of Abraham is not like those gods. To begin with, our God created the minds that imagined those lesser gods. He made the universe and all that is in it, but He didn’t create us and then walk away to watch us from some far-flung Olympus. In fact, His very thoughts are what keep the universe in existence. That’s love. When you realize that the God of creation is thinking of you at every moment (and yes, even at your very worst moments) you begin to know the immense love that flows from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
That relationship of the three Persons is Love itself. It creates and affirms, sacrifices and upholds. It is Love that made us and Love that sustains our existence–and the birds and the flowers and the DNA that unfolds into every living thing. The Love of God holds the universe in place and the stars in their courses.
And because of Love, the deepest mystery of all was presented to a little Jewish girl one day two thousand years ago. Not by force, but by invitation, almighty God looked to the Virgin Mary to bear His Son. She could have declined that invitation. But she was “full of grace”(Luke 1:28) and her heart embraced the mystery of bringing our salvation into the world. Her “yes” is our great model of how to follow the Lord. When God invites you, say “yes.” It won’t be easy, and there will be pain, even pain unto death on a Cross, but with God, death is only the beginning and never the final word.
So now, as we enter into another Advent, we find our hearts drawn once again to that little family in Bethlehem. We pray to be like them, to gather in the hope of the Lord’s invitation to love and to be loved, to allow the mystery of His will to unfold in our lives. We light candles against the dark night and sing old familiar hymns about angels and wise men and babes in a manger. We are grateful to be held in the palm of His hand, loved beyond our knowing, treasured and adopted children of the King of Kings.
“God has stepped into our world to dig us out of every prison we disguised as snug burrows and cozy hobbit holes.”