December 24, 2017
A king fell in love with a poor maid, and wanted to marry her. He asked his counselors, "How shall I declare my love?" They answered, "Your majesty has only to appear in all the glory of your royal raiment before the maid's humble dwelling, and she will instantly fall at your feet and be yours." But precisely this troubled the king. He wanted to glorify her, not himself. He wanted her love freely given. Finally, the king realized love's truth: that freedom for the beloved demanded equality with the beloved. So late one night, after all in the palace had retired, he slipped out a side door and appeared before the maid's cottage, dressed as a servant, to confess his love for her.
This lovely fable illustrates to us the reason why Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, chooses to become a human person. It is all about love! Jesus does not want our submission to his almighty power; he wants us to freely respond to his love. It is true, he gives us commandments and expects us to obey, but his desire is that we obey in love, not in fear.
The most consoling message of Christmas is the message that God delivered through the Angel Gabriel to Mary: “Do not be afraid.” It has been said that this appears 366 times in the Bible – one for every day of the year and the extra for leap year!! God reassures us daily, “Do not be afraid,” because He knows that we have fears: fears for the safety of our families, fears regarding our own health and life, fears about possible accidents, illnesses, violent home intrusion, fears about our jobs. We are afraid of snakes and poisonous creatures, deep water and fire hazards. We have fears about the health of a loved one who seems to be slipping away. We are afraid to lose what we possess…and even if we don’t lose it, what if, in the end, it isn’t enough??? On a national and global level, we are afraid of terrorist attacks, nuclear warfare, religious persecution, global warming and so many other natural disasters.
The most widely quoted verse from the Bible is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” It has been called “the Gospel in a nutshell.” It is what we celebrate as The Good News at Christmas. Because God loves us this much, why should we ever be afraid?
However, we can’t make the mistake of assuming that God’s love and salvation are automatic. A love story requires two persons who are madly in love. It is an unrequited love story if the love is not returned in kind.
Like the poor maid, it is a tremendous honor for us to have a King who loves us and wants to be with us. We can choose a happy ending by saying “Yes” to him.