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"Every Criminal Was Once an Infant Love"

The Christmas Christ

by DIANE CHRISTIAN

The face of Christ at Christmas is a baby face­sweet, vulnerable, silent. The face of Christ at Christmas is about beginning human time, a needy present. It’s not the bloody Christ of suffering and death thirty-three years ahead of that baby and almost two thousand years behind us, nor is it the judging Christ at the end of the world and time.

The face of Christ at Christmas is one we all have worn. ‘Every criminal was once an infant love’ Blake wrote, reminding us of our common innocence and vulnerability before all our experience and cruelty. The story says the heavens marked Christ’s birth with a star which rich men followed to pay tribute. But the birth was humble and animal.

What does it mean to see God in a baby? It’s a mistake and confusion to fellow monotheist Jews and Muslims. It’s a familiar story to sophisticated Hindus. It’s a myth to many and a silliness to some. It’s a wise story whatever one’s belief. It looks to present, vulnerable time and sees a human need for love, a baby’s face, as God’s own story.

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo and author of the new book Blood Sacrifice. She can be reached at: engdc@acsu.buffalo.edu