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December 05, 2019 Thursday 03:29:53 PM IST

God Among Men


Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) started his career as an army officer. As he was exceptionally talented and courageous he became one of the greatest military commanders in history in a very short span of time. After assuming power as the ruler of France in 1799, he became the emperor of France in 1804. While he was the emperor,he won many victories expanding his empire to all corners of Europe.

The soldiers who fought for France had great admiration and love for Napoleon. It was because as the emperor, he did not just sit on his throne and command his troops to fight. Instead, he himself was on the battlefront fighting and destroying his enemies. Moreover, he stayed with his men in their camps,abandoning his royal clothes and becoming one likethem. The soldiers felt elated at the fact their emperor became one among them, and they were willing to fight for him, enduring any sacrifice.

The story of an emperor becoming like his soldiers is truly captivating. But the story of God becoming like man is not only captivating but is also absolutely astonishing. In fact, this is the story of Christmas – God becoming man and living among them! Why did he do that? God became man to make rivers flow on barren heights and springs well up within the valleys, to turn the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into springs (Isaiah 41: 17-20). He became man to open the eyes that are blind, to free the captives from prison and release from the dungeon whose who sit in darkness (Isaiah 42).

He became man to proclaim the good news of God’s love to us (Luke 4”18). He became man to be our truth, our way and our life (John 14:6). He became man to become our light so that we would never walk in darkness (John 8:12). He became man to nourish us and to give rest to those who are tired and find life burdensome (Mathew 11:28). In short, he became man to give us life and to give it abundantly (John 10:10), including everlasting life in heaven (John 11:25).

But where is this God who became man? Where will we find him? Eager-Heart is a Christmas mystery play which tells the story of a young beautiful woman with the name Eager-Heart in a remote village in Germany. One day she heard the news that the Great King was going to pass through her village soon and that he might spend the night in the village.That night Eager-Heart had a dream that the Great King would stay in her home. Realizing what a great honor it would be to receive the King into her home she started her preparations immediately.

While her preparations were underway, a neighbor told her about the arrival of the King in the village. So she hastened to finish her last-minute preparations to receive him.It was then that she heard a knock at the door. She opened the door hoping that it would be the King. But she was disappointed. What she saw was a man standing there together with a woman and child. The man who looked like a poor carpenter requested a place for them to stay overnight. “No, not tonight,” she said to him. “I am expecting a guest tonight. You may come tomorrow.”

“That is what everyone says,” the poor man said. “They are all expecting a guest tonight and there is no place for us to stay.” Eager-Heart looked at the three, and she felt her heart melting. “Alright, you may stay in my house,” she said. Immediately she took them in, fed them and took them to the bedroom prepared for the King. As the man and his wife profusely thanked her for her hospitality, she told them to rest.Then she rushed out into the darknesswith a lamp, hoping to get a glimpse of the King.

While she was outside, she saw some shepherds and three ornately dressed wise men following a star. She joined them hoping to see the King. As she accompanied them she realized the star was leading them back to her home. She hurried to the front and told the wise men that the King was not in her house. “He cannot be here,” she said. “It is my humble home.”But they said the King should be there as the guiding star stood over her house.

Eager-Heart ran into her house and was amazed at what she saw. The house was full of heavenly light and she saw the Infant King sleeping on the silky bed she had prepared for the Great King. While she knelt and adored the Infant King the wise men and shepherds came in with their gifts and adored the newborn King. She was extremely glad she had opened her house for the poor man, woman and child who were actually Joseph, Mary and Jesus, even though she had no inkling of it.

Yes, Jesus the Son of God is still in our midst even though we fail to recognize him as he often comes in the form of the poor, tired, hungry and homeless people. If we recognize him and serve him in the “least of my brethren” (Mathew 25:40), then we will actually meet him, and he will give us the gifts of peace, joy and new life for which he came down from heaven. During this Christmas season, as well as always, let us make sure that we recognize his presence in the lives of everyone we meet, especially in the lives of the poor, the tired, the hungry and the homeless. Then we will have not only peace, joy and new life in this world but also eternal life in heaven. Merry Christmas, everyone! 

Fr. Jose Panthaplamthottiyil, CMI

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