The Christmas story is one that has always fascinated me. While, I, like everyone else, enjoy Santa, fun songs, and getting together with family and friends, it is the humble beginnings of Jesus Christ that make me humbly reflect upon myself and the time we live in.
Imagine what it must have been like for Joseph and Mary. The government was forcing them to travel to their hometown, where they no longer had a residence, for a census. They were poor people and such a trip was not an easy one. Further, they had absolutely no social status. Mary had become pregnant before marrying Joseph. Now we look upon her as the Blessed Virgin. However, with human nature as it is, one knows that that name was probably not the one Mary was called by some around her. Indeed, if you doubt the low status of Joseph and Mary, remember that a pregnant woman far along in her pregnancy could not even get a room in a simple inn for the night. She and Joseph were put in a barn. We call it a manger, and romanticize it today, but it was a barn, with animals, animal smells, and just a bit of hay to sleep upon.
It was about the humblest place anyone could enter this Earth. Yet, that is where God chose to have his only begotten Son born. A star did appear upon Jesus's birth and wise men did travel to give him gifts that signified royalty. Yet, that does not strike me nearly as much as the humble start.
Two humble people, poor and without power, were chosen by God to raise His Son. Great scholars were not chosen. Kings and Queens were not chosen. What we would consider the least among us were.
I suppose if Jesus were born into today's world instead of the time he was in, it might happen to a faithful couple who worked at a farm, in a factory or in a Wal-Mart and lived in a single wide trailer home. I know that will make some people uncomfortable. But, the birth of Christ is supposed to.
It needs to make us uncomfortable in how we judge one another so easily. Even the most pious of us write off the prisoner, the "redneck," the guy riding the trash truck, or the immigrant picking fruit and so on. Yet, if those people are faithful, in God's eyes they are equal to us, if not our betters if we do not have their faith.
The concepts God teaches us through the life of his Son are hard to accept easily. It goes against human nature. It is so easy for us to judge the man or woman who are broke, or made a mistake, or who don't have the things and success some of us do. But, if one takes the time to think on the humility of the Christmas story, and indeed the humility of the life of Christ, it becomes clear that God wants us to have compassion and understanding for one another, even if our instincts seem to makes us more inclined to judge instead of love.
Sometimes I actually have some pity for the innkeeper. Had the innkeeper knew who was about to be born, he surely would have given up the finest room he had in the inn. But, he did not, and acted out of human nature. The innkeeper is an example of how many of us act, myself included, toward people when our human nature takes over. However, like the innkeeper, we really have no idea of just who we are dealing with when we issue a slight, deny forgiveness, deny mercy or judge.
The Christmas story has been dubbed the greatest story ever told. And, it is. In one simple story, God reveals to us He has love for all of us, regardless our station or past, and what we all should think of one another.