By Jonathan Lynch
It’s funny how when you read the Holy Bible stuff jumps out at you. Around this time last year when I picked up my Bible and flipped it open to the Book of Wisdom, I saw something that looked almost out of place in the surrounding text. It was the eighteenth chapter, where it speaks about Israel’s escape from Egypt and the accompanying plagues that the hardhearted Egyptians experienced. But what I read struck me right between the eyes as being a prophecy of Christ’s coming to earth in Christmas:
“For while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, / Thy Almighty Word leapt down from heaven from Thy royal throne, as a fierce conqueror into the midst of the land of destruction.” (Wisdom 18: 14-15, Douay-Rheims Bible)
Actually, it was the first verse that reminded me of Christmas, and the second that seemed incongruous with the idea of the meek little Christ-Child in the stable at Bethlehem. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was really the second verse that was most applicable to the Christmas message. The first verse just describes the circumstances; the second describes what actually happened on Christmas Night two thousand years ago. Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Word of the Father, the Divine Logos. And it was in Christ’s Incarnation and birth that he leaped down from heaven, from his eternal throne, and entered into time and space. He forsook the glory that was his by right so as to take on our weakness, our frailty, and our vulnerability. He came so that he could suffer, die, and redeem us from our own sins. And while Jesus came in peace, in littleness, and in humility, we must never forget that he came for a purpose. He came for war: “I have come to bring, not peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:35).
Jesus came to make war upon Satan, “that ancient serpent,” and to destroy his kingdom of death and destruction. Jesus came as a tiny child, but make no mistake: he came to conquer. He came into the midst of a land that was justly doomed to destruction by its sins so that his perfect, precious sacrifice on Calvary could pay the ransom for our eternal life. For Jesus, glory meant stripping himself of all that was his, and victory meant laying down his perfect life for our sinful, broken lives. And it was this humility that so confounded Satan’s pride. It was exactly in Christ’s embrace of littleness and humility that he shattered Satan’s kingdom, so as to crush the devil’s hideous pride all the more. No big, tough high-school bully likes to be creamed by what looks like a frail kid from kindergarten, and the devil is no different. Humility disarms him because when we empty ourselves of our own pride, selfishness and self-proclaimed awesomeness, God can fill us with himself. And then (Haha! Take that!) the devil is sent packing by a weak creature alive with God’s power.
Even though the idea of the newborn Christ as a “Fierce Conqueror” may seem strange to you, I’d challenge you to think about it. God does not need swords, tanks, bombs, and assault rifles to have the upper hand. He can conquer with whatever he jolly well pleases. And hopefully, if we meditate upon Jesus’s profound humility, we will be challenged to see ourselves through God’s eyes, and in emptying ourselves, allow him to fill us with his bounteous love and peace this Christmas.
All for Thee, Sweet Jesus,
Through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
For the glory of God
And the salvation of souls!