written by Werner Geischberger 

In our modern culture love is all around – so it seems. Considering songs hitting the charts, soap operas, movies, and pink heart-shaped posts on social media, you cannot help thinking that love is the currency of society. But aren’t we all experiencing something different? The pandemic stifles the hope of men and women, deprives them of their zest for life, increases isolation and loneliness... Aren’t these the opposites of love? Sometimes, people talk a lot about things they wish they had: more money, more days off, more good friends. More love, too?

What would "more love" look like, more of the kind mentioned above? Imagine people drowning each other in love-images, love-wishes, and love-feelings, incessantly talking about love but without effect. This kind of love won’t help anyone; it is selfish and not willing to stoop to help those who suffer – a nice ideal detached from reality.

The reign of a kind of love which is idealistic rather than realistic would be a reason to give in to worry and despair: everybody expresses his or her deepest emotions but, at the end of the day, the lonely elderly lady still gazes out her window, the schoolboy without a friend is still without a friend, and the family next door still can’t stop their emotional wounds from bleeding. What a depressing perspective!

But here comes the good news of the Christmas story. It is far better than any play a human playwright could conceive, and then there is also this dramatic moment when the script says, ‘Enter Messiah!’ And when He came, He really came! He showed interest in people's plight because He cared for them; He rolled up His sleeves, got to work, and became the game-changer for many because His love is a radical alternative to the idea of love perpetuated by our society. His love was "love in action." The Messiah cared, healed, invited outsiders, and supplied bread to real people to satisfy real hunger.

And just in case people didn't understand, He told a story in order to explain what He means by ‘love.’ A traveler was attacked by robbers, beaten up, and left in the gutter. Several guys with lofty ideals about living right passed him by and did nothing. Then came another man - from ‘another’ ethnic group, at that! This man saw the traveler in his condition and did something: He gave him first aid, brought him to an inn, and gave the owner the money needed to look after him. Could you think of a better image to describe ‘love in action’?

This story about the so-called ‘Good Samaritan’ exemplifies what Christmas is all about: God visits us. He offers us a real way out of our despair, our hurts, and bondages. This is not just nice talk: He became one of us so He could identify with us in our struggles. He came as a little child, sat in the dust next to us, ate with us, and suffered with us. On Christmas Day, we celebrate His willingness to identify with us, His ‘love in action.’