As the days of the Christmas Octave draw to a close, we are privileged to hear the moving Prologue of the Gospel of John. Among the many stately phrases that pour out one after the other, I am struck by the following: “But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God.”
Having power to become a child—it is a curious phrase. We normally do not associate the words “power” and “child.” Yet, it is the heart of the Christian mystery. Incapable of saving ourselves, we need a savior. But the path to salvation is not “upward mobility,” but rather “downward humility.” Christian maturity consists in “growing up” enough to become a child, dependent on and totally confident in God. To be “saved,” is to become a child.
And this must come from a power that does not originate within us. The power comes through the choice to “accept him” – to say “yes” to being saved, rescued, by the Word made flesh, the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We must be born “of God.”
And so Christmas is surely about a birth, in Bethlehem long ago. But just as surely it is about many births, the births of all those who accept Jesus and consent to be born again as children.
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