|The Nativity of Christ by Duccio (detai|
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
For a number of years in the late 1970's I visited a young man named Chol Soo Lee* who was on Death Row at San Quentin penitentiary in California. Because he was a condemned prisoner, he wasn't allowed to have physical contact with anyone. Instead, in handcuffs and chains,he was brought,into a cell with a thick glass window, where we talked over the phone for an hour (the limit of the visit.)
One visit was particularly memorable, when I went to see him on Christmas. After telling me he was glad that I had come to visit him, he told me that Christmas was a sad day, even for the prisoners who had visitors, because it was a reminder of their separation from their families. But it was saddest for the prisoners whose families were unable to visit them.
And then he said that even those prisoners who, due to circumstances were alone on Christmas, were fortunate compared to the inmates who were such bad men, who had committed such heinous crimes, that no-one could possibly care about them, love them and want to visit them.
I've thought about what he said often over the past forty years, and I think that the birth of Jesus is both the sign and the promise that God's love encompasses every person, even those who are humanly impossible to love, people that no-one would ever want to love, like those inmates Chol Soo told me about.
But isn't that, at the deepest level, the reason we celebrate Christmas? That in the person of Jesus, the Word of God, which is mercy, was born to be with and love and save every man and woman, even, (or perhaps especially) the most hateful, unloveable, and lost among us.
For nothing is impossible for God.
*Chol Soo Lee was granted a retrial and acquitted in 1982. http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Chol-Soo-Lee-famed-for-murder-conviction-and-5963898.php