“José y Maria” by Rev. James Martin, SJ
The “scandal” of Christmas, as theologians call it, is that God became a person. Think of how shocking that must have sounded to people used to either the God of the Old Testament, the great and mysterious “I AM,” or the Greek philosophers’ conception of God—for example, Aristotle’s “Thought thinking thought.” But on the first Christmas, God entered the world in a particular time and a particular place and as a particular person: Jesus in first-century Galilee. That’s why this contemporary image of the Holy Family, “José y Maria,” by Everett Patterson, seems so perfect to me. Were God to enter the world today, it would be into a family more like this than the ones we see on Christmas cards. For one thing, the Holy Family wasn’t white. For another, they weren’t rich. Finally, they weren’t powerful. But there’s another reason I like this image, beyond the many clever visual puns. In his adult years, Jesus told us that what we do to the “least” of our brothers and sisters, we do to him. So when we see a poor family, a refugee family, a migrant family, we actually are seeing the Holy Family. Jesus resides there. The contemporary “scandal” of Christmas, then, is also a theological one: Why so many of us turn him away from our hearts, and decide, like the innkeeper in the Nativity story, that there is “no room” for him. If you make room in your heart for the Jesus of the Christmas cards, can you make room for the Jesus who presents himself to you today?
(Image: “José y Maria,” everettpatterson.com)