Let us continue our meditation of the mystery of the Nativity of Our Lord with the great Bossuet. Religion, he says, is a sentiment composed of fear and joy. It inspires fear in man because he is a sinner; it inspires joy in him, because he hopes in the remission of his sins. It inspires fear, because God is just; it inspires joy because God is good. This is the reason why the Psalmist invites us to serve the Lord with fear and to rejoice into Him with trembling. (Ps 2,11)
It is true that Our Lord is an object of consolation for many who, in spite of their condition of sinners, truly hate their sins and amend their lives. They are those who serve the Lord with fear every day of their life and do not content themselves of a mere ritual participation in the exercises of public worships, which is certainly a most excellent thing in itself but can be quite insufficient or even pharisaic if it is not preceded and followed by other acts of virtue. There are not a few, these Christian whom piety vanish right after Mass. There are not a few, these penitents who claim that they will amend their life in the confessional, but as soon as they have left it, return exactly to their same earthly and mundane life. For such Christians who do not have the fear of God, Christ can hardly be an object of consolation.
He rather is an object of contradiction. He is such a sign for the proud people who do not recognize and accept the Incarnation of the Word. He also is such a sign for many Christians, who, while they believe in this mystery, do not understand the great lesson of humility given by Christ. They have forgotten the baseness of their own birth, Bossuet comments. Christians by name, they prefer to be served rather than be servant. The true nobility is first the one of the heart not the one received by birth and the true servant of God is recognizable by his magnanimity, the greatness of his soul. There is no magnanimity without humility.
And what does offend the world is precisely the humility of Our Lord, Bossuet says again. It is such a scandal for those who seek only the earthly good and their own satisfaction. They were many among the Jews; they are still many among the Christians. Then, since Christ disturbs their own conception of their life, they charge Him and accuse Him:
Doth the Christ come out of Galilee? - But we know this man, whence he is. -thou being a man, makest thyself God. - Thou art a Samaritan and hast a devil. - Behold a man that is a glutton and a wine drinker, a friend of publicans and sinners.
The humility of the Son of God is unbearable for them as it reminds them that they should imitate Him and renounce to their life of sin. The Savior tells them: You seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. (Jn 8,37) And Bossuet puts these words in the mouth of Our Lord: The lights of your conscience and its persecution that it creates in your heart do not move you. For this reason you want to switch them off. The truths of the Gospel scandalize you. You begin to fight them, not with reason; you do not have a reason. You fight them out of laziness, blindness or fury.
You might think that those words are not for you. You do not attend to kill Our Lord and you do not judge Him! Are you so sure? You certainly do not act this way toward Our Lord in person, but have you forgotten what He told you many times? Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me (Mt 25,40)
Can you say with the same certitude that you never judge your neighbor or that you are never angry with him, which would make you a murder: You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Mt 5, 21-22)
Be sure that if you do not amend your life, Christ will be a sign of contradiction to you. Is He destined to be for your fall or for your rise? This depends on how you receive Him in your life and how you conform yours to his life. The humility of the crèche shows us what our life should be. It anticipates the sufferings of the Passion, but then, we know that it is for our rise.
May Our Blessed Mother help us understand this truth for the good of our souls.