Who doesn’t think of family at Christmastime? Who doesn’t yearn to feel loved – especially by one’s family? The human heart calls out for the love that is at the center of Christmas – the unconditional love God has for every member of the human family, as expressed by Christ Jesus. The love with which Jesus loved is here today to satisfy and enrich the affections of all who seek it and receive it into their hearts and thoughts of family.
Jesus’ love for humanity was drawn from God, divine Love, his and our heavenly Parent. Jesus’ virgin birth sprang from Mary’s humble surrender to God’s fatherhood, and from her own pure expression of God’s motherhood. Thus Jesus was keenly aware of his spiritual identity as the loved Son of God, or the Christ, and of the identity of each of us (every man, woman, and child) as God’s precious offspring.
The Christ-love Jesus lived, and by which he healed, embraced this basic message: There’s actually only one family, in which we all live as the brothers and sisters of one all-harmonious Father-Mother, God. We can’t be outside this eternally intact, loving family. Our common Parent encircles us in His love and tender care, and maintains us as His likeness, the reflection and expression of Love.
God’s love for us is undoubtedly the best Christmas gift we could ever receive. The question is, How can I more fully receive, or welcome, this gift – my heavenly Parent’s love – into my heart today? What comes to me is to start by acknowledging and honoring God as my real Parent, and the Parent of everyone. All of us, even our human parents, are God’s children. My parents have been gone for many years now, but I still feel I can gift them with my love by honoring them as God’s children. And I know that they can feel love, because it comes directly from God, who is also with them.
It is true, of course, that human beings, parents as well as children, do not always seem lovable. And whether children and parents are together at Christmastime or apart, hearts often have a special need to feel the love of God in their relations with one another. Jesus’ recommendation was to “love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Since Jesus’ love started with honoring God as our Parent, a fresh look at the commandment “Honour thy father and thy mother” can be helpful. I’ve found it constructive to think of the Fifth Commandment as transitional between the first four (about our relation with God) and the last five (about our relations with one another). By honoring God as our real Parent, we can honor our human parents, along with ourselves and our brothers and sisters, as God’s children. That puts all of us on a level playing field.
As human beings we may be fallible, but to begin to love in the way Jesus loved does not require us to love our human weaknesses, but rather to love who we are in God’s eyes – embodiments of His beautiful qualities. Nurturing these qualities within ourselves, and finding and appreciating them in others, is the best Christmas gift we can give.
To love in this way is to feel the spirit of Christmas. Whether you’re with family or friends, or alone, you will be able to feel God’s love embracing you. Others, near and far, will be able to feel it, too. Its healing power has no bounds.
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