Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.
The The Liturgical Year is the most constant and the most effective teacher that the Church has. Now that we have come to the end of the Christmas Season let us consider some of the truths that the Christmas Season teaches us.
The FIRST and the MOST important truth of Christmas and the truth from which everything else flows is: GOD LOVES ME. Love is not found in words love is found in deeds. Gifts are the language of love; the more one loves the more one gives. But even if the lover give all he possesses it is not enough, the gift without the giver is bare. The lover must give himself. That is what Christmas is all about, the gift of self. "The Word was God… and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." (John 1:1-14) All that I am, all that I have and all that I ever will be is a spin-off from the reality that God loves me. My response to God is a spin-off from my realization of this reality. The lyrics of an old song expresses it well, "You're nobody 'til somebody loves you, you're nobody till somebody cares." Therefore, my number one job is to grow in the realization of that reality. If I could add one more article to the Apostles Creed it would be: I believe God loves me. If you don't believe that you will not believe the other articles which are saying the same thing in a different way.
The most OBVIOUS truth of Christmas is that Christianity is not an abstract CREED or CODE, but a PERSON. What is lying in the manger is not a book, or a creed, but a person. The book, and the creed, is all about this person. The entire content of Christianity has been abstracted from the person and life of Jesus. To be a Christian means to incarnate, enflesh these abstract truths into our own person so that once again Christianity becomes a person. Christianity is essentially a personal relationship with Jesus. In Jesus, the medium is the message. The whole of Christianity can be expressed in one word, Jesus. When you have said Jesus you have said it all.
Christmas also teaches us that. God always comes to us INCOGNITO. God is a hidden God. God comes to us hidden in a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. God comes to us wrapped in the swaddling bands of bread and wine in the Eucharist. God comes to us wrapped in the unique personality of each person we meet and God comes to us wrapped in the common events of each day.
God comes to us incognito not to make it DIFFICULT for us to know him, but to make it POSSIBLE for us to know him. God is a pure spirit. The object of our cognition is sensible, material reality. God comes to us mediated by sensible reality. And because God always comes to us incognito ONLY those with FAITH can celebrate Christmas. That is the way it was at the first Christmas. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and Wise Men all had to have faith. As it was in the beginning so is it today.
The Christmas Season also teaches us that Christmas is not just for children as some would have us believe. Jesus is the Redeemer who came to forgive sins. The angel told Joseph, "You will name him Jesus for he will save his people from their sins."(Matt.1:21) Jesus himself said that he came not for the just but for the sinner. John the Baptist and Mary Immaculate teach us in the Advent Liturgy that sins must be confronted, acknowledged and forgiven. Christmas is not just for children. It is mainly for adults because only adults can commit sin.
Finally, and perhaps what is most relevant for today, the MESSIAH has ALREADY COME. The revelation of Jesus is final and definitive. Jesus will come again, but it will be the same Jesus, now risen and victorious. As we say in the Mass, "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again." So we can smile, if not laugh, at the present day, SELF-APPOINTED Messiahs who are trying to save us.
If in the hustle and bustle of the past few weeks, you were caught up in all of the details preparing for Christmas and failed to recognize these truths, not to worry. Next year the Church will again celebrate the liturgy of Christmas. And after many yearly repetitions they will sink into our heart and we will know what a truly Merry Christmas really is.
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