Merry Christmas brothers and sisters! Or should we say: happy holidays so we don't offend anyone? Without a doubt Christmas has transformed western culture and even most of our society. This event which stands for the Mass of Christ has been a holy day of celebration and spiritual renewal from the beginnings of christianity. On this day we commemorate the birth of Jesus, and its transcendence is clearly noted not only for christians but for most of our culture. During this time of the year families come together leave their occupations to celebrate and rejoice. But what are we celebrating?
First and foremost, we must begin by saying that Christmas is a religious celebration. According with christian tradition on this day Jesus was born of the ever Virgin Mary. So is this just the remembrance of the birth date of just another man? According to the Bible and catholic tradition Jesus is no ordinary man. Jesus is the long-awaited messiah that the jewish people have longed for. He is the Emmanuel, that is, God with us. Through out his life with both his words and actions Jesus clearly presents himself as the Son of God, God`s eternal word who has lived in all eternity with God. " In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (Jn 1; 1). This Word is, according to the Gospel, God who in His eternal mercy has deigned to assume human nature so that humans, who are ignorant of the ways of the Spirit, may come to know the intimacy of the life of God. As St. Paul marvelously puts it in his letter to the Colossians, "He is the image of the invisible God." Hence it is through Jesus' humanity that we may come to know the Divinity.
With this in mind we can now begin to delve in the significance of this holy date. The Eternal, the Infinite, the Holy One, the Alpha and the Omega of all that is has immersed himself in time to bring us to Eternity. He is the bridge or as Jesus says, 'the way' to perfect and plain communion with God. God's spiritual nature is a mystery to us since our way of knowledge usually comes through our senses, yet the purely spiritual goes beyond our sensible way of apprehension. This is then remedied by the Almighty by making himself sensible through Jesus Christ. Now, through Jesus, we are capable of seeing and hearing God, and therefore capacitated to imitate him and live according to the Truth and the fountain of all truth. However, is this what most people celebrate on this day? I am hopeful that most christians remember the birth of Jesus on this day, yet our culture seems to have distorted this holiday and transformed it into a mega feast of consumerism. We celebrate God's birthday yet it is us who are benefitted by countless material gifts that only accentuate our disordered love for material possessions. I am not against giving each other gifts. That is a beautiful display of love towards each other, and I am not despising our families coming together to celebrate. Yet in today's world, where is Christ on christmas? We have inflated the image of Santa Claus and the christmas tree, but where is the holy child?
Shopping malls, tv commercials and holiday propaganda propagate this date as a mere human and cultural event full of decorative snow flakes and reindeer. But where is Christ? Do we commemorate his choice of being born in poverty and abandonment? His birth should teach us the contingency and temporality of material goods compared to the incorruptibility of spiritual goods. But anyhow, how many of us remember the incarnation of God? Similar things have happened with other significant religious festivities, for example Easter, which is the remembrance of the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and now it has been almost replaced by the easter bunny. Wow what a radical change!
Let us rejoice for Christ has come to save us. The Holy One has made himself vulnerable and little to sanctify us. He has made himself poor to enrich us with the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit, yet we have forgotten this, and transformed Christmas into a simple distraction from our busy lives. This date should never be diluted into an accidental and insignificant occurence. It should lift our minds and souls to the contemplation of the spiritual realities and fill our hearts with joy because it is a manifestation of the infinite love of God for us. I invite all of us to begin living a more spiritual Christmas, a Christmas that can and will, if we let it, transform our lives for the better. Let us meditate on this Christmas and rejoice with our families but not just as another gift exchange party but as an event that has changed the world because this day represents the most miraculous action in human history. God has become man and dwells with us.
Written by Andres Maria