I remember once, I must have been about five, when I asked dad, if he turned a right hand turn and went half a block, if a cop, knowing the right was red on the new street he was on could write him a ticket. I was ignored in the question, dad shrugging it off as a silly question, and I remember it to this day.
The angel told them, “This will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God, “Importance to God in the highest and on earth peace to those of noble thought.” Gospel reading for Christmas Mass at midnight.
Most people think the sign was the heavenly host as they appeared in the sky. This is not what Luke says. “This will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” Period! The sign is something very mundane. The sign is a baby who looks just like any other newborn, laying in the most humble of places.
Mark has the “Clouds of heaven,” at Jesus’ trial. Nobody in the room thinks this refers to an event two thousand years into the future. Tell the world on September 10 of 2001 that the Twin Towers will fall, and you get a good laugh. Tell the same people the same thing today, and… The Romans had come marching through Israel, many times in the first century before Christ, and the century of Christ. Everyone knew what happened when the Romans came through. They tended to do much the same things. What upsets the Sanhedrin so much is not the brash prediction, as that all knew it was only a matter of time before it happened again. This kind of destruction had become almost mundane.
This brings us to the importance of Christmas. Do not look for God in the great events of history. He is there. One of the great quotes of the Civil War is Robert E. Lee telling his Maj. Gen. Richard Ewell to take the heights, “If practicable.” Gen. Ewell did not feel it was practicable, so did not take the heights. That decision may have cost Lee Gettysburg, and the south the war. But for such a little phrase, the south might still have slavery today. God is in the little things.
Jesus is better found in the manger, in the crèche, in the little moments of life. He is found in the person next to us, in depression, or hungry, or lying in tight clothes, either because there is not adequate funds for proper bundling, or because of the cold of the night, there being no money for adequate heating of the home. God is in the sad little boy who asks the silly question about how the cop knows dad made the turn at a green light and not a red one. Let us pay attention to all that is around us, because we never know what will be remembered; we never know when the smallest of things will come back and bite.