Christmas teaches us about the strength and might in gentleness, mercy and innocence.
In preparation, Advent can teach us to cleanse ourselves of attraction to false power, so that we might become receptive to the true power of Christ in our lives.
Jesus Christ has brought the world an unexpected (and before unheard of) type of power. Before his arrival, many of the Jewish people were expecting a ruler of military strength, such as David. Much of our world believes power lies in physical strength, the ability to influence, or even to bully and hurt others, physically and emotionally.
The attraction to power goes far beyond the obvious example above. Humans forget what's most important. We can become consumed with trying to prove our worth to others and to the world, so we may seem "powerful" in their eyes through our "specialness" or "greatness."
When we are over-focused on creating the "perfect" Christmas celebration for our families, or on producing the perfect work of art or project at work, we are often led away from our primary goal of living here on earth, which is to love and serve God. We are not called to impress Him or anyone else.
Love and service don't have to be fancy or special, just real, honest, sincere and from our heart.
Just through the "mere" act of being born, Jesus demonstrated for us how to live all eight beatitudes. When the Creator of the universe came to us as a tiny baby, He taught us all we need to know about how to love.
When we look at a painting or icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding Jesus, the baby, who is really the focus? Mary is larger and Jesus is smaller, but does that mean Mary is more important?
No, for Jesus taught us that we are to come to Him as a little child. Jesus never asks us to do anything He did not do first. Jesus comes to us in a tiny, vulnerable human form, held lovingly by his mother, who serves Him with her care.
It is in the image of Madonna and Child that we see true majesty and might of Christ. Within that tiny baby is contained all the strength and power in the universe. He doesn't want to force us to love Him, but beckons us through the sheer power of His love to open our hearts and souls to Him.
Jesus came to us in a dirty stable, a place we where we would probably be ashamed for anyone to visit us. Jesus still wants to meet us there, in those dirty, shameful, hidden places of our souls. And he meets us there with the purest, humblest and most precious love there is.
During advent, as we prepare for Christmas, let us prepare our hearts and souls to receive the strength of the peace of Christ. Let that purification time center around letting go of false ideas of what makes us and others strong. Let us give ourselves to Him with greater humility, purity and simplicity, as He first gave himself to us.
"O Blessed Jesus,
Give me stillness of soul in you.
Let your mighty calmness reign in me.
Rule me, O King of Gentleness,
King of Peace."
-St. John of the Cross