By Father Joseph Breighner
For the world, Christmas is a day. For the world, the Christmas season is the time before Christmas. It’s what I call the Christmas selling season. Recently I learned that President Franklin Roosevelt had pushed Thanksgiving back one week in order to lengthen the Christmas shopping time. This was one thing he did to stimulate sales, and pull our country out of the Great Depression. So shopping is not all bad. It’s just that shopping limits us to the Commercial Christmas.
For believers, Christmas is a season in which we celebrate some of the events in the life of Jesus and the Holy Family. More importantly, it’s not just a time to think about events, but to have those events take on meaning in our own lives.
We don’t just think about historical events, but see how those events transform our history. For God to become a man in history, and to live in a family is to forever give unique value to a human life, and to give unique value to families.
Put simply, God has become one with us, and we have become one with God. It’s so easy to say those words, and yet so easy not to see what they truly mean. To me, what they mean is that the God who took on flesh and blood at one moment in history, is the same God who wants to take on our flesh and blood at every moment in history.
We speak of being born again in God, but I think the truth is nothing less than that God wants to be born again and again in us, in every human being. This isn’t a God who wants to take over our lives by force, but a God who wants to rule by love. This God so wants to fill our lives that we can actually begin to think and act like God. As St. Paul said so well: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
Jesus was born in a Jewish family. In his adult life, Jesus was clearly an observant Jew. As one teacher so humorously put it: “Christ was not a Christian!” Yet you and I are. In our Catholic faith we clearly preserve our Jewish roots. And we all know the tragic consequences of prejudice – the death camps of the past and terrorists of the present.
Our job is not to make the world Christian. Our job is to so allow the God who lives in us to live through us. In other words, as we “put on the mind of Christ,” as we live and love, give and forgive, the world might recognize in us the presence of God, and seek that same presence in their own lives. When the presence of Christ comes to full birth in all of us, then truly Christmas ceases to be just a season for some, but a reality for all.
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