Warm wishes. Friendship. Kindness. Happiness. Family. Giving.
For many who combat the materialism of Christmas, these words have become the "reason for the season." Fr. Anthony Giambrone, O.P. spoke on this topic during his homily yesterday. He brought up a point that I'd been pondering about the materialization of Christmas and the counter movement to make Christmas a time of friends, family, warm wishes and cheer. Fr. Anthony brought up Dickens' The Christmas Carol as an example of this.
It was no coincidence that when I got into my car later in the afternoon, the first voice I heard on the radio was an anchor saying something like, "Peace, joy, happiness and family. These are the true reasons for Christmas." I chuckled to myself.
Now, I don't want to take anything way from all of these good things. Material gifts are often great. Family and friends are excellent. Warm wishes are cozy. Peace and kindness are things we all desire.
But sentiments can cloud our vision.
There is something deeply personal about the Incarnation, and this intimate moment when God becomes man should teach us something deep about our humanity.
At Christmas we remember - we live the memory - the fact that God became man. We not only call to mind the birth of a tiny little king, but the whole of His life, and the fact that by dying and rising from the dead, He can be encountered now as He was then by shepherds and Magi. Christ teaches us what it means to be human. He does this by teaching us: how to call God "Father," how to pray, that freedom lies in pursuing the greatest good, what sacrifice means, and that we find ourselves by giving ourselves in the purest form of charity.
The more this encounter with the Word made Flesh becomes a real event, a real experience, the deeper our conversion will be.
Let us not, in the midst of presents, generosity, friends and family, forget this intimate invitation of the Mystery with our hearts.
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26