I’ve never been entirely comfortable with Christmas theologically. It’s a bit saccharine for my tastes. I prefer the parables and the passion narratives for their twists and unexpected inversions. And I’ve always liked the Moses and David cycles in the Hebrew Bible for their frank depictions of human foibles and failings. The Christmas stories in the Gospels just left me uninspired. Baby Jesus is too quiet, too cuddly, and too likable. (Frankly Mary and Joseph shouldn’t count as real parents if what the song says is true…”no crying he makes!”) Where is the existential angst, the challenge to received wisdom, and the startling reversals that make the mature Jesus such a pain in the side of the authorities? I’ve had a hard time over the years finding enough meat in the Christmas stories to sink my teeth into. Well, not this year, and my redemption came from an unexpected place: the Bishop of Rome.