God, apparently, loves feasting. Nothing secretive or peaceful about it. A brash new star, exotic foreigners, ecstatic shepherds, choirs of angels—not just a quiet messenger, but hosts of them, pouring through the night sky singing “Glory.” God chose to celebrate this feast “just at the worst time of the year,” to be a light in the darkness, to comfort us on our lonely road, to prove over and over again that the things of the world are good, that fun is an ethical concept. Perhaps this is what is meant by “blessed are the poor”—they know how to feast.
I wish I were able to feast with this extravagant host. I am appalled by my pusillanimous responses: by the minginess of my imagination. I tend to criticize the menu (“virgin birth so out of date”) and carp at the behavior of less refined guests (“oh, not ‘Hark-the Herald’ again”). I wear jeans not my wedding garment, and I want the children to “calm down” and not wake up too early in the morning.
Of course they should wake up early, of course they should be overexcited, of course they should run amok and tear open their presents with greedy zeal. This is the feast day of a God who so delights in matter, in the stuff of the universe, in bodies, that he plunges into it all head first, and becomes a child. This is the feast day of a God who rips the invisible membrane between time and eternity so heaven floods the world, in an extravagant and abundant tide of love, and the world laps back, carried undiluted to the everlasting banquet. The feast of a God who comes into the cold, the dark, the silence of our prosperity and says, “Let’s party.”
This is only the conclusion of a marvelous piece that first appeared in Commonweal in 1997 and has been reprinted in the current issue. I encourage you to read the full article [here].