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My brother let me stay at his place a few days down the Cape, so I wanted to thank him with a gift. He has been married now for a while so our connection with one another has been sporadic. I really do not know what he needs so I decided to give him the impersonal gift card to Eastern Mountain Sports. When the family got together at Thanksgiving my brother got out of his car wearing a ski jacket in hot, hot fluorescent orange with a cobalt blue stripe on the arms. I needed sunglasses just to look at him. He said, “Look what I got with your gift card.” I had no idea. If I knew he wanted a coat, I would have thought maybe earth tones, and I would have been wrong. It is a challenge to find what someone really wants. After all, you do not want your gift to end up on eBay.
Matthew penned the story of Jesus’ birth to show us that God had given the gift that the world really needed: a good leader. That is the emphasis of his infancy narrative. The Gospel begins with a list of all the leaders of the chosen people. Next, Joseph is of the house of David. Then King Herod is jealous of the newborn king while the wise men give kingly gifts and homage to the king. Lots of kings. So why is God giving us a good King?
In order to answer this question, we have to go back to the book of Samuel. The chosen people turned their backs on God to worship other gods. Why would they do that? God freed them from slavery, offered them plenty of food and water in the desert, and gave them prime real estate with the best foods. After all God did for them, they reject Him? I would think that God would want to wipe them all out and start again with a new nation, but He doesn’t. Instead, he says, “I know how I can help them from turning away from me. I will send them a leader.” So God gave them a king. Lots of kings came and went and none of them really produced what God wanted them to do.
Let me put it this way. I was on a two-lane highway when someone wanted to get in my lane so I let him cut in front of me. When I let him in, he slowed the car to a stop, put on his hazards, and got out of the car. Apparently he needed to deliver something and there was no parking space. So he just parked his car in the middle of the road. Meanwhile I am stuck behind him. I tried to get around him by entering the left lane but cars were zipping by. I could not get enough momentum to slip in so I sat there and waited for an opportunity. After a minute or two, someone saw my predicament. He flashed his lights and slowed down to let me cut in. I was so grateful. I thought at the time: “If I were God for just five minutes, I would let this nice guy win the Megabucks, I would have all his favorite sports teams win championships for the next five years and he will never have back pain again.” Why would I want to shower him with such gifts and not any one of the other drivers that passed me by? He stood out from everyone; He did something no one else did.
That is what happened. God sent us a King that would stand out from all the other kings. Jesus did something that none of the others would do. He was a humble servant of God. As a servant, he listened to divine instruction and followed the wishes of God. The other kings were not humble and they did whatever they wanted.
So on Christmas day, God gave the world a gift that we really needed. A king, a leader who would always keep us from straying away from God. It is the perfect gift. So on Christmas day, God sent a humble servant that would always lead us to God. Guide us so we will never stray far from God. That is the gift we always needed, and now we have the best gift God could give us. His son.Back to All Homilies