A Blessed Christmas to one and all. I had promised a video for Christmas but let's just say that due to technical difficulties it wasn't meant to be, but there are certainly many thoughts on my mind as we celebrate this wonderful feast of the Lord's birth.
Over nearly 40 years of ministry as a priest some words that I often hear as Christmas approaches go something like this, "It's been tough lately. There won't be any Christmas for us this year." While I certainly resonate with and have compassion towards those who express these sentiments I would like to suggest
that there is another way to look at Christmas. Modern advertising presents us with images of Christmas that are unreal. There is almost always snow, but just enough and no one has to shovel it. Families are always happy and healthy. Alcohol is consumed, but never too much. What happens is that we compare our lives to these images and then conclude that "There is no Christmas for me this year."
We also mistakenly think that we are merely celebrating Jesus' birthday, and we are, but we are celebrating much more. By only thinking of the birth of Jesus, as wonderful a moment as that must have been, we are merely commemorating a past event. Theologian Ronald Rolheiser reminds that that the Incarnation, the taking on of human flesh by God, is not a one day, or even a 33 year, reality. It is a mystery that continues in us to this very day. As we celebrate the birth of Christ we are challenged to let Christ be born again in us today. To the extent that the Christ comes alive in us repeatedly we indeed have great cause for celebration. The nativity story told by Luke and Matthew presents us with a Christ who came in humble love to humble surroundings. That same Christ looks to be born into our own humble surroundings, into the brokenness, pain and suffering that we experience, to bring us healing, comfort and strength and set us free. When we understand this we can never think that there won't be Christmas for me, but rather rejoice that while we won't have a Christmas card picture Christmas we can have that special cause for real rejoicing because we know that Emmanuel, God with us, is indeed with us, in our real lives, just as they are.
The next challenge of Christmas is realizing that through us, through our actions on behalf of the poor and marginalized of this word, Christ can be born over and over again in the world today. If more of us take up that challenge then perhaps the words, "Peace on earth" will be more than a nice theme for our Christmas cards.
Merry Christmas to all and a Blessed New Year!
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