Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Every year we relive the wonderful Christmas story: of a baby in a trough; of a mother holding her child in her arms, as her husband Joseph stays near; of angels singing; shepherds running over the hillside, to tell the child they love him.  

The Gospel according to John summed up this magnificent story in a single line:

“The Word became flesh.”

God did not leave us to ourselves. Remember the words of the prophet Isaiah: Can a mother forget her child? And even if she should, I will never forget you.  And so began the story known as our salvation.

The Word of God for the Christmas liturgies is like a prism through which is refracted the multiple facets of this great mystery of the Incarnation.  

Isaiah proclaims glad tidings: the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

Paul writes that the grace of God appeared in Jesus Christ who made us “heirs” to the promise of eternal life.

In the Gospel according to Luke, the Virgin Mary gave birth to her son.  She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger.  

And the Gospel of John sums up the meaning of Christmas: the Word became flesh.

That is the greatest gift.

Many of us may be stressed out from holiday shopping and wondering if a so-called “perfect gift” is really what someone needs or even wants.

Marian Wright Edelman, the children’s advocate and author, observed that the best presents she received as a child were not wrapped in pretty boxes or found under the Christmas tree.

From her father, she received the gift of a love of reading.  For him, books to improve the mind were more important than buying toys.  From her mother, she received the gift of a passion for children’s rights.  And from a neighbor, young Marian received the gift of courage not to be afraid of anything when something important or good just had to be done.

Some gifts really can transform people’s lives.  

“The Word became flesh.”  That gift changed our destiny forever. Christmas means not simply God in Bethlehem of Judea centuries ago, but God within us. We carry within ourselves Emmanuel, God with us, by virtue of the life-giving waters of baptism.

We celebrate the presence of Christ, body and blood, soul and divinity.  For we are by grace what Jesus Christ is by nature: sons and daughters of God, heirs to the kingdom of God.

Remember that magnificent hymn of the Virgin Mary: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. Because the mighty one has done great things for me.  Mary rejoiced in the gifts God gave her, and we rejoice in the gifts God has given us.
           
Look for the good in each other.  And look for good in all situations of life.  

Have a blessed Christmas!

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