In our contemporary culture it is easy enough to overlook the true meaning of Christmas i.e. the fact that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ.  At Christmas we commemorate/celebrate the fact of the incarnation.  The Incarnation  is a mystery.  We cannot understand how it is possible for Jesus to be one person with two natures, one human and one divine.  We can only accept that in faith.  Once we accept that Jesus was divine we have difficulty in pinning down exactly what being truly human meant for him.

But that is essential if we are to find in Jesus a true brother, truly one like us in all things, except sin.  St. Paul tells us: “It was essential that he should in this way be made completely like his brothers and sisters so that he could become a compassionate and trustworthy high priest for their relationship to God, able to expiate the sins of his people.”  (Heb. 2: 17)

Jesus was truly a flesh and blood human being with spirit, soul, and body like ours.  The gospels are full of stories to illustrate that.  He was touched by the beauty of the lilies of the field and by the soldier who worried about his sick servant.  He loved his mother and his disciples.  He ate and drank and celebrated with his friends.  He wept at the death of his friend, Lazarus.  His heart ached for the people who were like sheep without a shepherd.

As St. Paul insists: “Who being in the form of God did not count equality with God something to be grasped.  But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are, and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.”  (Phil. 2: 6-7)

Jesus shared fully in our human condition.  Thus he had to face all the ambiguity, the complexity, the challenges that come with being human.  He had to face misunderstanding, rejection, abuse, persecution, and, finally, death itself.

Because we have to face the challenges involved in being human we need a savior who is truly human.  And that is what we celebrate in a special way at Christmas, the coming among us of a truly human savior who also being divine has the power to save us.  That is what fundamentally makes Christmas a joyful season.