How do we love all in world where hurt and pain are common? Love is vulnerability, honesty, and trust. Love can hurt, trust can be broken, and vulnerability can be scary. Wouldn’t loving all open us up to all of that? Yes, yes it does. But, God loved all—the past, the present, and the future—enough to take on flesh. A flesh that bleed and bruised. A flesh that knew pain. My flesh. Your flesh.
What I find most amazing of the Nativity story is that God did not come as mighty, powerful King or like Zeus riding in a flaming chariot. God came in the form of one of the most vulnerable and innocent of all beings, a baby. God loved all. God loves all. Jesus loved all. Jesus’ birth, the incarnation of the love of God, challenges us to remember to love all. Sure, during Advent and the Christmas season we gather with family and friends. We’re filled with euphoria and love. This is great, but we were called to love ALL, not just friends and family, but the stranger, the beggar, the widow, the orphan, even our enemies. Emmanuel was not born into a perfect world. Last year during Advent, my family’s home was robbed. When Christmas came, my brothers and I decided to replace some of the items taken. Throughout it all, my mom kept saying, “Now do you need me to curse our thief? I’ve been so trying to pray for him.” She decided to love this person even though he violated her home. I often associate forgiveness with the season of Lent, not Advent. But without the season of Advent, there would be no Lent. To love all is to forgive, not necessarily dismiss, the harms done, but to acknowledge the fragile and broken humanity of the person who did wrong and love them despite it.
This call to love all is not just about loving all people, but it is a call to love ALL. Love all of creation. Love all of our goodness. Love all of our sinfulness. Love all of our broken places. Love all in darkness and in light. Love all of myself. I know for myself that this task is difficult. Typically, during Advent I focus on anything, but myself. It is about my family and friends. It is about my giving, not my receiving. However, Advent is also about myself because of the call to love all. I must try to embrace my broken places, my sinfulness, and my goodness. Love myself where I don’t think I’m deserving. Advent prepares us for the birth of Christ, who loves all, loves our whole selves. God came to love all and to model how to love all.
We each carry the Emmanuel, God with us. We conceive Him when we answer “yes” to God and then carry God within us. We are pregnant with so much possibility because we have God within us and if we believe in that power than nothing can stop us. God grows in us and us in God. But we also deliver Christ to others through actions. We deliver Christ to a waiting world. Sometimes there is no room for Christ in the world or within us. We sometimes become like the innkeeper and turn Jesus away. However, when Christ is delivered to us, darkness vanishes and a great light is revealed to us and we become that light for others. We guide others and help them to deliver Christ. The season of Advent is a love story in which Christ is given and received into a waiting world.
“Best of all, Christmas means a spirit of love, a time when the love of God and the love of our fellow men should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, a time when our thoughts and deeds and the spirit of our lives manifest the presence of God. ” George F. McDougall
Grace Badik is a senior PPP major from Toledo, Ohio. She works for the Dorothy Day Center for Faith & Justice and runs the weekly Community Night dinners. Grace enjoys playing basketball, music by John Denver, James Taylor, and Mumford & Sons, and can easily take a joke.