1.    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 eternity!

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 us.
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 )

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” 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!”