Jesus is the reason for the
season! The real purpose and meaning of
Christmas can be found in the name “Jesus”.
As St. Paul asserts in the letter to the Philippians: At the name of
Jesus every knee in heaven, on earth and under earth will bow… (Phil.2). Jesus
means “Savior”. In the Annunciation,
the Archangel Gabriel says to Mary that the child that she would bear His name
is “Jesus” because He will save the people of their sins…
From what does Jesus save us? In a nutshell—from
all that is evil! He came to save us
from sin; He came to save us from the power of the devil; He came to save us
from sadness, hopelessness and despair; He came to save us from the meaningless
characteristic of modern life; He came to save us from death; He came to save
us from eternal loss in hell. He came
through the power of His Incarnation, life death and Resurrection to give us
life and life to the full in the Resurrection , by which he crushed death
and opened wide the gates of heaven for
all who come to Him, love Him, obey Him and desire to be with Him for all
CHRISTMAS TEACHES US TO AVOID
MATERIALISM: A MODERN GOD!
A modern Psychologist, Erich Fromm,
expresses the danger of placing all one’s hope in material things with these
short but penetrating words: “If you are what you have and you lose what you
have then who are you?” Blessed Pope John Paul II, who was instrumental in the promulgation
of the Dogmatic Constitution of Vatican II, Gaudium Spes, expressed it in these
words: “Being is more important than
having and doing flows from being!” Even the most famous Rock n’ Roll group,
The Beatles, had a handle on the concept, when they sang “Money can’t buy me
love!” It is true that money can buy
comfort, ease and pleasure, but not joy.
True joy comes from within, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and a keen
awareness of God’s indwelling and abiding Presence and His limitless love for
Of course the literary masterpiece of
Charles Dickens made into many films since, “The Christmas Carol” teaches us
many lessons on the meaning of Christmas. In the forefront is the message that
hoarding money and things for oneself can cause grief to oneself as well as to
others. On the contrary, learning to give generously produces overflowing joy.
Only once confronted with the reality of his mortality, his own death, his
short and fleeting life, was Ebenezer Scrooge compelled to see his money not as
a means for his own pleasure but as something to give away freely. St. Paul reminds us: “There is more joy in giving than in
receiving.” The story and movie ends with Scrooge buying the expensive turkey,
visiting the home of Bob Cratchet, ( his employee whom he used as an object for
many years), visiting Bob’s home, donating the expensive turkey, embracing the
little paralytic Tiny Tim and sitting at dinner and rejoicing in his giving!
In a society which lauds and applauds
people with money, possessions names with fame, the birth of Jesus in the poor,
squalid, cold, musty and smelly stable for animals sends us a radical counter-cultural message: “Blessed are the
poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God.” (Mt. 5:3 )
A MOST SECURE HAVEN AND REFUGE: THE
ARMS AND HEART OF MARY
The cold and bitter air, the profound
darkness of the night, the smell of hay mixed with animal dung, the hard floor
of the cave, the cold rejection of the Innkeepers--- all serve to describe the
reception Hall of Jesus into the world!
Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen captures the scene with these
poignant words: “The Creator of the whole universe had nowhere to be born in
his own creation.”
Despite this deplorable scenario of
the birth of the Savior into a world that basically rejected Him, there was one
sure refuge, haven, oasis of peace and that was the arms of His Mother Mary.
Jesus found warmth, comfort and peace in her arms and was warmed by her
Immaculate Heart. In our lives, amidst
the storms, earthquakes, and heartbreaks of life we can always find sure refuge
in the arms and the Heart of Mary the Mother of Jesus and our Mother. “Sweet heart of Mary be my salvation!”
Elijah, the prophet.
Silence leads to interior
recollection and then to contemplation of our awesome but loving God. In a
world inundated by constant and almost deafening noise, what we might term
“Noise Pollution” that first Christmas night in the profound night of Bethlehem
we learn the lesson of silence. God speaks
in the depths of the heart that has silence.
God did not speak to the prophet Elijah in the storm, the earthquake, or
the lightning and thunder. Rather, God
spoke to Elijah in the soft and gentle breeze.
Why not in deep silence and recollection contemplate the Child Jesus
sleeping peacefully in the arms of Mary.
Then speak to them from the depths of your heart. “O come let us adore Him!
CHRISTMAS: AND THE MASS AND THE
EUCHARIST-JESUS IS BORN!
“Christmas” means the
“Mass of Christ”. There are actually
three comings of Christ into the world. First, He came in the flesh in the
Incarnation when He was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the stable of Bethlehem
about 2000 years ago. Second, Jesus will come at the end of time as a just
Judge. He will judge all who ever lived
for what they have done and what they have failed to do, as we pray in the
Creed: “He will come to judge the living and the dead.” Third, Jesus comes
mystically but truly in an invisible way through grace and the Sacraments.
The greatest of all
Sacraments is the Most Holy Eucharist!
At every Holy Mass, in a real sense, Christmas is being celebrated
because Christmas is truly the birth of Jesus. If that is true, then at the
moment of Consecration in the Mass when the priest takes the Bread and repeats
the words that Jesus said at the Last Supper, “Take and eat this is my Body…”
in that moment Jesus is truly born in the hands of the celebrating priest. Christmas is renewed every day and every
hour that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated! Still more, every time
we receive Holy Communion with faith, devotion and love then our hearts become
a Bethlehem to receive the Lord of the universe. For that reason the word “Bethlehem” actually
means “The House of Bread.” Jesus who said, “I am the Bread of life whoever
eats my Body and drinks my blood will have everlasting life and I will raise
him up on the last day,” desires to enter into your “Bethlehem” and mine (Our
hearts and souls in Holy Communion).
Why not celebrate Christmas in a totally spiritual way by placing Jesus
in the Mass, Consecration, in Holy Communion in the very center of your life.
If this is done it will
be a Christmas of great joy, peace, harmony, and love. May Mary who gave us the
greatest Gift in the world--- Jesus, the Savior—attain for us the most holy,
happy, and heavenly inspired Christmas in our lives! Indeed “Jesus is the reason for the season!”