Christmas is near and we all feel bothered with all the things which have to be done before Christmas so that we and our families should have a perfect Christmas. And we all wish to keep Christmas as Our Lord’s Birthday Feast. But all the things that have to be done so that we can enjoy Christmas, according to us, have over time overshadowed what is really important. Real joy, this really good Christmas feeling, cannot come from a month full of shopping and stress, the way December has become.
Advent is not about parties and shopping even if it means to give things to each other and share joy but it is about celebration of God becoming one of us. It is a good thing to give gifts to each other. But we cannot be better than God when it comes to generosity, neither when it comes to money or time. When we give presents we do it because we have received the largest gift – God’s Son who became man. This is the wonderful divine paradox, that the more busy we are the more time we have to give to God. And the more time we give to contact with God, the better we can manage all the other things we have to do. So, a piece of good advice is to set aside more time than usual for prayer and meditation in this month of preparations.
We should read from the prophet Isaiah chapter 9 and 10 about Christ’s birth. We should meditate over events that led to this first Christmas. We should think about this first ever Christmas when the poor manger became the Eternal King’s Hall, which the people from the town and the kings passed by without realizing that the divine miracle happened while the poor shepherds and the wise men from the East came to adore.
It may be a good meditation to place yourself in the various roles. What would have happened if I were Maria, Joseph, Elisabeth, the landlord in Bethlehem or one of the shepherds. Would I have been open enough spiritually to hear the angels sing about the Good Tidings? Would my eyes have been open enough to see the star above Bethlehem? Could I have been one of the wise men? Or would I have passed by the manger without noticing the divine miracle?
Let us put aside all the daily chores and let God’s love stream in. The preparation time before Christmas should not be a time full of worldly stress but a time for in-depth meditation on the Mystery of Incarnation, and a time for prayer. Christmas presents cannot be only a question of money or of flattery; they have to be a sign of our openness to give ourselves like He did, He who came to the world, who was born in a manger to offer himself on the Cross for our salvation.
Let us open ourselves to the Lord and let His Spirit in so that He may make our Christmas. Let us remember Mary from Bethany and let her example show the way. She took her time to sit at Jesus’ feet and to listen to His words. And Jesus said that “Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her”. We have to follow her – open up for Jesus so that He will be born in our hearts. Then Christmas will not be a heathen feast but a real celebration of Christ’s birth.
May the peace of the Lord and His blessing come in that Holy Night to you and your families and be with you for ever.
Your Parish Priest Dom Alois