When the Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol visits Ebenezer Scrooge, the visitation is not especially terrifying or otherworldly. It’s the present of course, so Scrooge is not transported to see a different time. Instead, he sees his time, but from new angles, with new lenses. He sees joys that he’s missing out on with his nephew and his nephew’s wife because Scrooge has chosen a closed off, work-only life. He also sees the plight of people like his employee Bob Cratchet, and “God bless us everyone” Tiny Tim, and the rest of the family.
And though it is difficult at the time, this expanded vision turns out to be a gift. It is a gift to see ourselves more clearly. It is a gift to see a wider world all around us that we can be willfully blind to. It is a gift to see the joys and relationships we miss out on when we close ourselves off. It is a gift to see the plight of others and the opportunities we have to enrich their lives and ours when we open ourselves to greater compassion and empathy.
One of the lessons that Christmas teaches centers on the incarnation, the mind-blowing idea that the God who was before all creation and made all creation and through all creation would willingly become a creature, take on human form and experience our struggles. Jesus does this, Hebrews 2:14-18 tells us, in an effort to better relate, to better minister, to empathize. Jesus becomes like us in every way so that he can see through the eyes of humanity.
Yet Jesus never surrenders the eyes of divinity. Jesus never loses the love, the faithfulness, the compassion of God. And because of that, Jesus not only sees the world how people see it, but Jesus sees people how God sees them. Jesus sees the image of God in everyone. He sees the promise. He sees the potential. He sees the possibility. This reality should comfort us this Christmas. Christ understands us. He understands better than we understand ourselves. This reminder should also compel us to great compassion and empathy towards others. Let Jesus open our eyes to see people we’ve overlooked and to see those already in our lives through the lens of his love.