December 25 – Nativity of the Lord

I’m very competitive.  I may or may not “talk smack” if you try to take me on in card games or sports…especially when I’m good at them—that includes bowling, by the way, so watch out OLM bowling league.  As I reflect, I can see that this competitive spirit began in grade school, carried into high school, and has even continued into college and priestly ministry!

Competition is a good thing (and I’m not just saying that because I’m biased).  It is something that reminds us of the need to put in the necessary effort and discipline if we want to succeed.  St. Paul writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize!” (1 Cor 9:24)  St. Paul desires that people put the same effort they put into sports into growing their faith.

Still, there is one area of our lives where competition should have no place: our relationship with God.  This is because God is not in competition with us.  What we learn as children and adults—namely, “if somebody else wins, I lose”—doesn’t translate in our relationship with God.  When God wins, we win.  He’s on our side, and He’s one heck of a teammate!

When my nephew was a tiny infant, it was a joy just to be able to hold him. I didn’t challenge him to a competition, or question who was winning out the most in our relationship.  I just wanted to be with him—to hold him and to rejoice in him. The Lord desires the same kind of relationship with us.  He wants to be with us! He wants to be held close to our hearts, just as He holds us close to His own heart.

This shows us one of the reasons why God chose to become an infant.  He wants to break through our imagined competition with Him, and show us that fighting against Him is just about as unreasonable as fighting against a helpless infant. When God wins, we win. Let’s be thankful this Christmas for our God who is so powerful and majestic that He’s not afraid to become a helpless tiny infant, showing us just how much He wants to be with us, and just how far He is willing to go for us!

Father Michael