God’s Quiet Gift to the World
The secrets stored in God’s dealings with us.
By Dr. James Helmy
lory to God in the highest, said the angelic choir to the shepherds, and they ran to see the new Child. But besides this short and glorious exchange, our Lord received no other recognition from earthly beings. We would not have expected one of the greatest miracles given us by God, the Incarnation, to go so unnoticed by the world. Why didn’t God make His arrival more plain?
The power of the Most High shall cover thee with His shadow, said the angel to Mary. This shadow, this immeasurably divine power that covered her during her lifetime, was hidden from human eyes. The outward circumstances of her life were very commonplace, and no-one would have guessed that she kept house with the very Son of God. Why didn’t God make His presence more plain?
Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?, said the people to each other, after He had taught in the synagogue. He had labored quietly for thirty years in Joseph’s toolshed, without ever once working a miracle or uttering a heavenly sermon. And now, suddenly, He is teaching them things with an authority that “astonished” them. Why didn’t God make His power more plain?
The ways of God are mysterious, but one of the most mysterious qualities of His work is the almost unbroken serenity or “hiddenness” of His actions. God is at work always and everywhere, but we easily miss Him. He is born in an inn down the street, but we don’t know it. He’s busy assembling a table in a workshop in a nearby town, but we’re unaware. He passes by us in the street and offers a look of deep compassion, but we take no notice.
No one knew the Son of God resided in that poor little house, but what divine nourishment Joseph and Mary must have received from that daily bread! There was no outward glamour in their young Boy, nothing impressive enough to attract the populace’s interest. But in His presence their faith was deepened and their joy ignited day by day. O Bread of angels! O Pearl of great price! How His holy example must have raised and sweetened the family life of the Nazareth home! And how full of happiness, and peace, and gratitude must Joseph and Mary have felt at the annual celebration of that most precious brithday!
And yet it all happened in secret.
“What treasures of grace are concealed in each moment of our lives!” exclaims a lovely little book entitled “The Joy of Full Surrender.” It’s true. Christ is there, in the people we meet and the circumstances we encounter, waiting to be discovered. “It is like a sacrament to sanctify all of our moments.” Why should any moment not be consecrated to God if it’s part of the life of one of His baptized children?
The Fast and Feast of Nativity are meant to remind us of God’s latent presence in everything; of His constant working everywhere; of the “overshadowing” of commonplace things with His power; and of Himself who, though being equal to God, did not consider it a strange thing to be made like us.