O Come, let us adore Him!
Angels, shepherds, wise men, Joseph and Mary all adore the newborn King. We, too, come to adore Him at Christmas, along with the sheep, the ox and donkey. The ox and the donkey? Someone recently told me they love the nativity scene – except for the ox and the donkey. Open the book of Isaiah and you’ll understand why these animals in particular show up at Christmas. “Hear, O heavens, and listen, O earth, for the LORD speaks: Sons have I raised and reared, but they have rebelled against me! An ox knows its owner, and an ass, its master’s manger; But Israel does not know, my people has not understood.” (Isaiah 1:2-3).
Just as the star leads us to Bethlehem and the manger where baby Jesus is laid, so do the ox and the donkey. In the manger, where the animals feed, in Bethlehem, which means “house of bread”, our Master is found. The Son of God restores us to our dignity as sons and daughters of God. He draws us tenderly, this newborn infant. And he will give himself to us as the Bread of Life in the Eucharist, so we continually “come and adore Him.”
On the cover is the Adoration of the Magi by Botticelli. It contains another image that at first seems odd, but speaks powerfully this Christmas especially. Here, Jesus is born in the midst of ruins – a broken wall, with crumbling arches in the background. These are scenes, unfortunately, all too familiar to us this Christmas. Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Why the ruins?
The prophet Amos writes about the day of the Lord’s coming. “On that day I will raise up the fallen hut of David; I will wall up its breaches, raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old.” (Amos 9:11) Maybe it’s no accident Jesus learned the carpenter’s trade from Joseph. God comes to us as a contractor with all the materials – ready now – to repair what is broken.
As our broken relationship with God is restored, we also become builders of peace, restorers of our broken world. As children of God in the only-begotten Son, we learn to imitate him and share in his saving work. “Your people shall rebuild the ancient ruins; the foundations from ages past you shall raise up; “Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you, “Restorer of ruined dwellings.” (Isaiah 58:12)
May you experience the presence and saving power of the Savior, born for you. May he bring restoration to your home, your family, to our world. And may we, sons and daughters of God by his grace, share in the saving work of Christ, giving “glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to people of good will.”