Victor Hugo once said: “When a child comes into the world, the circle of the family rejoices”. These words correspond well with the feast of Christmas. On the human level, no other feast day evokes as much joy, preparation, feverish expectation, exaggeration, foolish expenditure and fatigue. But for us Christians, what is most important is not so much the festivities or the gifts that we receive, but rather, to welcome “Him Who is to come”.
This “Gift of all gifts” is not just something that was received in days gone by like a simple souvenir. It is the “Son of God”, born 2000 years ago, begotten from all eternity by God the Father. So equal and so similar to Him that He is the Revealer, the Living Word.
To prepare earth for this “Unique Gift”, God the Father, from the beginning, chose and prepared a virgin; Mary. Her holiness was so great that “it could only be perceived, or measured by the Mind of God”. Through the intervention of the Holy Spirit, and by a perfect act of faith, the only one in all of history, she welcomed the Son of God-made man, to establish the alliance between God and the great human family. All of this was accomplished with inexpressible heavenly joy.
Indeed, this is how the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary the Divine Plan for her, “Rejoice, the Lord is with you…Do not be afraid. You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus” (Lk 1:28-32). When the Child was born an angel greeted the shepherds, “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah…And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” (Lk 2:10-14).
This Child-God who’s birth we celebrate, comes to tell us His great love for us and for all of humanity, and also His desire to create a communion with and among us. He comes to unite us, to make us His people, to make of the many faces in the Church, one true family, showing us how to welcome, loving one another, to establish all things in Him (Ephes 4:1-32).
But instead, what do we have today? Secularization has distanced the people from the Church. There is no longer any place for God in the diverse institutions of society. We see religious indifference. Love, in reference to God, no longer exists: we live “each to his own”, for consummation, for comfort, to “have everything”; we give in to desire, envy, excessive pleasure seeking, etc. We have no time to think about God, or to visit Him. Faith still exists, but it’s light is very weak. Fortunately, there are still those little “flickers” of faith, sometimes at funerals, weddings, or other special feasts, sometimes at Christmas and Easter.
What is God’s invitation to such a troubled world? Is there possibly more that we can do to change our world, our families, ourselves? What opportunities exist to revive the life of God to those whom we encounter; to perform acts of kindness for those persons whom we find more difficult to love; to help those who are less fortunate, but also to help family members or neighbors who are in need; to find ways for more openness, hospitality and generosity? This Child wants to inspire us with new ways of making our lives significant to others.
The spirit of Christmas is “God among and with us”. Let us ask Him to increase our faith, to help us to penetrate, live and witness the meaning of the Gospel. Isn’t it this Light which invades our hearts that makes of us “sowers” of true joy? God is always with us in the Bread of Scripture and the Eucharistic Bread. It is the same God, the same Savior. What faithfulness! (Ps 112). Let us learn how to thank him by celebrating Christmas every Sunday, a Christmas lived in a faith and love that leads us to eternal happiness.
I wish you all the happiest Christmas ever!
Fr. Roger Bouchard, D. Th.