My neighborhood offers Christmas shoppers lots of help: the counters are full, and the windows have been elegantly displaying gift suggestions since mid-October. I am led to ponder the original gift that generated this phenomenon of Christmas—a small, quiet, intimate gift of love in the birth of a child. What this is about, I remind myself, is God and God’s love and God’s plan to call love out of us.
The Greeks taught that God is perfect. By that they meant that God is complete, that God has no needs, no hopes, no aspirations. God doesn’t need anything. God’s perfection, the Greeks thought, meant that God is isolated, unchanging, unfeeling. The Greek word for it is apatheia. If God had feelings, became angry or happy, hated or loved, God would be as vulnerable as any human being—a preposterous idea, they thought.