SR. LOUISE ZDUNICH, NDC
December 19, 2011
Christmas was so exciting when I was a child. But sadly, I have lost the meaning of Christmas. I have heard others voicing the same opinion. How can I find Christmas again?
Children, in their innocence, find joy in living and discovering new things and in experiencing their new abilities. So it's normal that Christmas is exciting and enjoyable for them. They partake of the joy that is around them in the decorations, the gatherings, the food, the religious celebrations.
As adults with many experiences, both positive and negative, we can't expect to re-capture the same innocence and excitement we had as children. Celebrations, especially religious, will necessarily take on a more mature and deeper meaning for us.
CNS PHOTO | VICTORGAETAN
True, one can almost forget that it's Christmas with much of today's celebrations. Perhaps your loss of joy has something to do with this but even the secular aspects of this feast can help us get into the true spirit of Christmas.
The Gospels don't tell us that Jesus shunned crowds; rather he enjoyed them. He interacted with all with whom he came into contact. He fed them; he healed them; he taught them; he forgave them; he helped them in every way he could.
When we see malls crowded with people buying gifts for others as well as enjoying being with friends and family, we can rejoice that people are doing what Jesus did and wants them to do. We can be glad that, in a sometimes cold, cruel world, the Christmas season gives people hope and a chance to reach out to others.
The Church offers us Advent, four weeks of preparation and of longing before Christmas. It helps us look at Scripture, at God's loving care of humanity, especially in the coming of the Messiah. At Sunday and daily Masses, we re-acquaint ourselves with these stories.
REAWAKEN THE SPIRIT
There are many ways to re-animate the true spirit of Christmas. Our spiritual life isn't all about emotions. We may feel nothing but we believe and that faith leads us to live accordingly. Faith and love are acts of the intellect and will, with or without an emotional component.
Even the simple act of decorating and beautifying our homes helps. The lights shining on homes and streets remind us that the reason for Christmas is Christ who is the light of the world. Yes, even the Santas can remind us of the gift that Jesus is to the world. After all, the idea of Santa originated in the generosity of a saint, St. Nicholas, the fourth century bishop of Myra.
During Advent, inspiring religious musical presentations and concerts surround us: on television and radio, in the churches and in the music halls. All these can help us get into the true spirit of Christmas.
Christians believe that the Messiah came 2,000 years ago but also that he will come again at the end of time. Most of all, we believe that Christ comes into the present moment. Christ is there waiting to be invited in.
What a beautiful phrase we read in the Book of Revelation: "I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me knocking and open the door to let me in, I will come in and have supper with you" (3.20). That is the most important message of Christmas.
THE ULTIMATE GIFT
Advent is a time of joyful, expectant waiting for the Second Coming of Christ but also a time to focus on bringing Jesus into this world today and every tomorrow. We are grateful to God for giving us the ultimate gift of Jesus. To even begin to grasp the meaning of this gift requires a lifetime of reflection and prayer.
We must reach out to others as Jesus did. Both Old and New Testaments are consistent in telling us of the importance of helping the needy. This is reinforced in our society, especially at Christmas time, when many efforts are made to feed the hungry and give joy to those whose lives may have too little of it.
However, our task doesn't stop with this season. Christmas gives us an extra incentive to live and work in such a way that Jesus can be present in the lives of all through us.
Then continuing in the New Year, we are to be Christ to this world, touching, with love and caring, the lives of all those with whom we come into contact as Jesus did.
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