Christmas is a magnificent feast, calling forth from us reflection as well as celebration. It is next in importance, only to Easter and Pentecost in the Christian calendar. But in our society, Christmas definitely has become the greatest, the one that gets the most attention.
If we take time to reflect on our celebrations, be they secular or religious, we can only rejoice to see it celebrated with such splendour. The angel said to the shepherds "Fear not for I bring you good news of great joy" (Luke 2:10).
Although over-played in our age of materialism, the spiritual significance of gift giving has its origin in God. Contemplate the sublimity of creation: the beauty of sunsets and of rainbows, the majesty of the oceans and of rushing rivers, the grandeur of mountains and the bounty of the fields, the most majestic eagle to the tiniest humming bird, the intricacies of the columbine (Mary's mantle) to the magnificence of the rose, the crowning glory of creation, the gift of the human personality, mind and body, created in the image of God.
The most important gift is the inconceivable gift of the Son of God, taking a human body and becoming one of us. Our gift giving celebrates God's gift in this incisive event in human history.
Christ our Light
The lights we see burning brightly on houses, trees and candles can be a constant reminder during December of Christ the Light who has come into our world. The rest of the year, as we switch on lights in our homes, we can remember the presence of Christ our Light.
Family gatherings and big dinners remind us of Jesus, so enjoying meals with his disciples and with sinners that he was accused of being gluttonous. And it was at a meal gathering with his disciples, the Last Supper, that he left us his presence in an incredible way in the Eucharist.
Jesus continues to dwell among us. He came the first time in humble circumstances, fleeing for his life at a young age. During his ministry, he associated with the poor, the rejected, the sick, the lonely, sinners while healing them and easing their burdens. He built community with his disciples and taught them.
Today, we can find him exactly where we would have found him 2,000 years ago. In the homeless who live in our parks and streets, the elderly who have no one to brighten their day, the parents who are struggling in poverty to raise their children, the sick in their loneliness, prisoners who may be far from loved ones and in us, sinners, as in our daily lives, we struggle to be more faithful disciples.
That's what he said he came for. In his home synagogue, when the scrolls were handed to him, they obviously weren't open at the text he read, for Luke tells us he found the text of Isaiah and read it, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me and has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, release to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim the year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18-19), adding, "Today, this text is being fulfilled even as you listen" (21).
During this Advent, perhaps we have found ways to give of our time to others and share of our abundance with the needy. We may have become more conscious of God's presence and action in our world. Maybe, the abundance of Christmas lights have helped us be aware of Christ's light ever brighter in us and in those around us.
Reflection on the Gospels may have revealed to us where and how to find Christ in our lives. As Christ took on our human condition by his birth 2,000 years ago, so today he comes to us where we live and loves us as we are; our hearts are his birthplace and our lives are his home.