… behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)
According to St. Matthew at the Nativity of Christ, we learn from God that Jesus will save his people from their sins. Christmas is thus and obviously about God’s own effort to deliver people from bondage to sins. This is not some abstract idea about Christmas but is central to the original understanding of the holiday. The birth of Jesus readily calls to mind such passages from the Old Testament as Ezekiel 18:30-32 in which the Lord God says:
“Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of any one, says the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”
God does not desire the death or punishment of anyone, not even of the wicked. God wishes for every human being to turn away from sin and in so doing to choose life with Him. The birth of Christ is God’s action for the salvation of the human race – to save us from sin and death. We need only to turn away from sin and in repentance to embrace eternal life. This is fundamental to any celebration of Christ’s nativity. The Christmas season is a natural time for us to embrace God’s love for us and to repent.