For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
1 Corinthians 1:18-25, NIV, via Biblegateway.com
Peace. Hope. Love.
Those are the words, among others, that people use in their celebration of Christmas. We join in a universal longing for the end of strife among ourselves, among our nations, and with our God. We celebrate peace, hope, and love because that is what the nativity story says, and we want to believe it with all of our hearts.
But there is something more to this story of a baby, born of a virgin mother, announced by angels, and laid in a manger:
Atonement. Sacrifice. Death.
You see, baby Jesus was not just any baby, he was the answer to the pressing question of how we achieve peace, hope, and love. He was the one, born into the world at just the right time, while we were yet sinners, to pay the price no human could pay since that fateful day when Adam and Eve violated God’s first covenant with them. Jesus was born in a shadow, the shadow of the cross on which he would die.
Yet even that is not the end of the story, for in the life of this man whose birth we celebrate more than 2,000 years after it happened is an even greater promise:
Justification. Salvation. Eternity.
It is Jesus, laid in a manger at his birth and murdered on a cross in the prime of his life, who also defeated death and the power Satan exercised over us when we fell from God’s grace. It was Jesus who died the sacrificial death, finishing all that had to be finished, and who rose through the glorious power of God as the first fruits of who trust in God’s promises.
If you celebrate Christ’s Mass, it is this reality that you must face: peace, hope, and love with God , paid for with the blood of his only Son, and guaranteed to us by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
There is no other reason for this celebration because there is no other cause for hope.
Lord Jesus, come quickly to fulfill that hope for those who believe.