Christmas celebrates more than a babyAbout a month ago our choir started practicing a new hymn for Christmas titled, “From the Cradle to the Cross.” To me the words express the real meaning of the Feast of the Incarnation or Christmas, as we call it.
So often during this season we focus on a sweet, helpless little baby and often forget His great mission, the reason He became a human being. This little child in swaddling clothes changed the world forever. The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. He came to bring justice and love to the world and commissioned us to do likewise. We don’t merely celebrate a child. We celebrate a savior who fed the hungry, healed the sick, set captives free, and so much more. This is the true meaning of Christmas.
When the parties are over, cards sent, gifts given and Santa goes back to the North Pole, we continue to celebrate “Emmanuel, God with us.” The babe in the cradle began His journey to the cross and in doing so showed us how much God loves us. He rose from the dead and calls us to reveal this love to all. In a sense we are called to give birth to Jesus in the world, to incarnate Him.
As we celebrate this mystery of the Incarnation, take some quality time to reflect on how we have or have not given birth to our God, who is love, during this past year.
One of our great saints, Teresa of Avila, said that Christ has no hands and feet but ours. Jesus tells us over and over that He came to reveal His father’s love. During His earthly life He commissioned His followers to do the same. It is the central theme of His ministry.
During this season of Christmas, and remember it does not end after Dec. 25, the daily Scripture readings from the letters of St. John remind us that God is love. He tells us that it is only when we abide in love that we abide in God. When we love others, God loves. He goes on to say that if we claim to love God but hate our neighbor, we are liars. These are strong words to ponder, especially in light of all the war and violence we see and experience around us. Note that He did not say to love only the neighbors we like or are easy to be around. This love must extend to all.
God’s word challenges us. Incarnating God in the world must become a habit for we who call ourselves Christian. It is not reserved for special times of the year. The poor always need food and clothes. Homeless centers always need people to help with meals. Nursing homes are filled with people who appreciate visits, not just at Christmas. Friends like to hear from us at other times of the year too. The spirit of kindness and generosity must flow from our baptismal call to love.
God waits every day to be given birth in our world. We are God’s body. God becomes flesh in our daily actions.
During this beautiful season, let us reflect on how we will continue to give birth to the God of peace and love throughout the New Year. The only New Year’s resolution a Christian needs to make is to be a more loving and hope-filled person in a world that is in need of much healing. Try to make every day a little Christmas.
Sister Margie Lavonis is a Sister of the Holy Cross from Notre Dame, Ind. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.