In his book The Universal Christ Richard Rohr writes, “God loves things by becoming them.” Rohr explains that while we think of the Incarnation as the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, Incarnation began with the first instant of creation when God united with God’s creatures. God’s “Let there be light” after billions of years would be articulated in Jesus Christ who claimed, “I am the Light of the world” (Jn. 8:12).
When I was a little kid, I knew God was ubiquitous (but I didn’t use that big word). I knew God was “around” and could see what I did and hear my prayers. Now decades later I try to wrap my head around God’s presence in everyone and everything. Some scientists called this the “God particle.” Rohr writes, “Long before Jesus’s personal incarnation Christ was deeply embedded in all things—as all things!” This universal presence was in Mary’s flesh giving flesh to Jesus’s flesh. Consider for a moment: At the Annunciation when Mary said her yes, the Incarnation of Genesis chapter 1 became the Incarnation story of the Gospels. The Word spoken in Genesis became flesh—the Son of God and Son of Mary. So for billions of years before this time and for billions of years after this time, we can say with Saint Paul “There is only Christ. He is everything and He is in everything” (Col. 3:11).
If everyone realized that the Christ is the shepherd and wise men of Bethlehem, the Christ is sacristan arranging the manger scene in church, the Christ is the tired clerk, the friend wrapping our gift, the one lighting the Christmas tree in the park, and the homeless person on the park bench, then that would really be putting Christ back into Christmas.