There is one thing that stands out on this birthday of the Light, on this entrance procession of goodness into the world, and it fills us again and again with the nagging doubt whether those great things we talk about have really happened there in the stable of Bethlehem. Look at the sun, it is grand, glorious, and majestic; nobody could possibly overlook its yearly triumphal return. Should not its Creator at his arrival be even more majestic, more impressive? Should not this very sunrise of history flood the face of the earth with inexpressible glory? Yet instead – how miserable is everything we hear about in the Gospel! Or could it be that this very misery, this insignificance within the framework of this world, is the hallmark of the Creator, by which he makes known his presence ? This, at first, appears to be an unbelievable thought. And yet – if we explore the mystery of God’s providence, we will see ever more clearly that God seems to give of himself a two-fold sign.
There is, first of all, the sign of his creation. But alongside this sign there appears more forcefully the other, the sign of what is insignificant in this world. The most genuine and most important values are found in this world precisely under the sign of humility, of hiddenness, of silence. Whatever is decisively great in this world, whatever determines its fate and its history, is that which appears small to our eyes.
God, after having chosen the small and ignored people of Israel for his very own people, has made, in Bethlehem, the sign of insignificance into the decisive sign of his presence in this world. This is the challenge of the holy night – faith; faith to receive him under the sign and to trust him without arguing or grumbling. To receive him: this means for us to submit to this sign, to truth and to love, which are the highest and most God-like values, and at the same time the most neglected and most silent.
From: Dogma und Verkundigung, pp. 393f.