Today, on Christmas Eve, I want to talk about God’s great plan for you. Maybe right now you can’t really see it because things aren’t going the way you planned. Maybe there is a a tough financial decision ahead of you, or you are worried about a child in school. Maybe you have an upcoming surgery, or just weary of not finding your soul mate. Maybe there is even a little anxiety about certain members of your family gathering over the next few days. But whatever is going on in your life right now – good or bad — know that God is holding you in the palm of His hand. All of your problems are not the final word. In fact, not only will you survive, you will flourish, in Jesus’ name. God’s plan is in motion. You are a big part of it. Trust that God is in control.
When we first moved in to our home, we decided we should program the thermostat to save energy. We had a daytime temperature set, and an evening temperature set. We made sure it was always programmed, especially for days like today.
One night, I thought it would be a good idea to change the temperature. It was late, everybody was in bad, and the last thing I decided to do – in the dark – was to push the top button. As I did so, I realized I had touched the wrong button, and accidentally began to reset the program. But I didn’t want to change the program – I just wanted to change the temperature by one – maybe two – degrees. I thought it would make a huge difference, but I messed everything up.
Five minutes later, after endless tapping, turning the lights back on, I had still hadn’t gotten it back to its original settings. I gave up, and went to bed, and reprogrammed it the following morning. A little annoying, but the lesson was clear: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If the house is a little chilly, trust that it will get warmer… when the time is right.
Trusting in a master plan. Knowing that things are on schedule. Not running around trying to fix everything. That’s what the angels are doing in today’s Christmas Gospel.
Jesus was born poor, forgotten, in a dirty manger. The family deserved so much better. They had no money, no friends they could rely on when they needed them. They were outcasts. If you are like me, you may have always wondered… why didn’t the angels save the day? Why didn’t they swoop down, and find the Holy Family a palace? Rescue them from Lower Wacker Drive, in a sense, and take them to the Four Seasons? Angels can do anything on this earth, can’t they?
Well, our Gospel reading is clear: They knew God’s plan. They didn’t want to play around with the thermostat. They were there to admire, to adore, to spread the good news. But as far as the particulars, they were commanded not to do anything. No miracles, no new house, no long-term support for Mary and Joseph and their baby.
It’s something to consider tomorrow morning – that Jesus was meant to be born into poverty, live in poverty, and die in poverty. And no one – not the angels, the shepherds, the three wise men, and later the apostles, the wealthy, the politicians – no one really could change the particulars of Jesus’ life. That was the plan. God was in control, despite the miserable circumstances of the birth of His son.
So, what do you think God has in store for you? If Jesus was meant, from birth, to spend His whole life on the margins of society, advocating for the weak and the poor, what‘s your story? What are you called to do with your mostly awesome, sometimes messy, life? And most importantly, will you trust God in your current situation?
For me, it’s comforting to know that no miracle, no Powerball, no angel is going to step in and change my life just because I’m not happy with the way things are going. Our lives are exactly the way God wants them, and whatever the “temperature” is right now, we should never doubt God’s thermostat. And sometimes when we think we are making our lives better, like adjusting things by a degree or two, we are actually making things worse. By worrying, by being anxious, by assuming intentions, by not being charitable, we are messing things up. We are sinning against God but not believing in God’s word.
Jesus trusted God’s plan, even though at times, like in the garden at Gethsemane, He didn’t quite fully understand it. Let us have the grace and the strength to do the same. For that’s the promise of the Cross. Your life is sacred, and you’re here for a reason. God’s plan is in motion, and you are a big part of it. But you have to trust. Always trust that God is in control.
Just like He was in Bethlehem, two thousand years ago.