The Human-Divine Exchange
MANY Filipino Catholics are excited as Christmas approaches, especially during the Simbang Gabi days. But excited for what? For vacation? For going home? For Christmas parties? For gifts? There are so many things that can excite us. But as Christians, what should we be excited about? Not just for the date or the festivities of Christmas. We should be excited for the Lord! Christmas is the Lord Jesus! St. Paul wrote: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: Rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near!” (Philippians 4:4-5) It is the Lord we are waiting for. In Tagalog we have a unique word for this excitement: PANANABIK. It is a waiting with an intense longing. Come, Lord Jesus, Come! The whole Bible ends with this: “Yes, I am coming soon. Amen! Come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)
Jesus is coming to bring about a human and divine exchange. The Divine—God—became human in Jesus so that we human beings may become divine. God has taken on human life so that he can give us divine life. Indeed, the Son of God became son of man so that we sons and daughters of human beings may become sons and daughters of God. What an exchange! We can hardly fathom this divine condescension. The exchange is so unbalanced! We share our vile and limited humanity with God and he exchanges that with the wonderful goodness and greatness of his divinity.
When we meditate deeply on this, the things that we do on Christmas hardly approximates this reality. The so-called “joys” that we do by our gimmicks barely touch the surface of the joy that Jesus wants to share with us. And he really wants to share his joy with us—the fullness of his joy, not just a bit of it. He himself affirms this. “I’ve told you this, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11)
In an exchange, we have to let go, to surrender something, in order to receive. So we have to let go of our humanity—its dreams, its limitations, and even its ugliness and dirt—and offer them to the Lord. Let us not be afraid. We are not really going to lose what we give up to the Lord. We receive them back but transformed by his divinity. He makes use of our limited human ways to make his wonders work among us. Our time, talent, and riches when given to God returns a hundredfold. We even give to him our sins, our problems and our hurts. We admit them and submit them to him so that he may kiss them with his love and cleanse and transform them. Because of the incarnation, that is, God becoming man, nothing human is wasted. He even transformed the cross, an instrument of death, to become an instrument of life and salvation. Even human sufferings and follies can be transformed for something that is good. This is what we are excited about in Christmas. This divine-human exchange has become visible, palpable, and touchable in the baby born in the manger.
So, let us have our attention and focus on Jesus. He is Christmas!