The great joy and hope of this Christmas Season is powerfully expressed in the Gospel of John proclaimed at our Masses on Christmas day. Jesus, the incarnate God, is the “light that has come into the world, and the darkness has not overcome it!” The light of Christ is more powerful than the darkness of the world. How can I make this Christmas different so as to walk in that light and bring joy and hope to others?
In many ways, the world seems very dark this Christmas. The suffering, loss of life, and isolation caused by the pandemic; the divisions in our country and even families caused by social chaos and political discord; the economic hardships of the poorest among us; the violence brought so close to us by the tragic events at Oxford High School; and we could go on. What can we do differently, and must we do differently, to not give in to the darkness but to stand against it? Or, in keeping with our Advent Connecting Points, what can we do differently to put a priority on love; discern what is of value; express joy; and be open to God’s will this Christmas?
Keep in mind that Christmas is not a day; it is a Season. In “church time,” Christmas begins at 4:00 PM on December 24th and ends on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which this year is celebrated on January 9th. We have a lot of time to do things differently but must be intentional about it!
For instance, what can we do differently to make our gatherings with family and friends more inclusive and meaningful; healing broken relationships? What can we do differently to reach out to those most isolated by the pandemic? What can we do differently to work for a more just and less violent world? What can we do differently to make our schools safe places for our students and staffs? What can we do differently to keep from taking our children and loved ones, and even our own health, for granted? What can we do differently to work together to overcome the pandemic?
In order to do things differently we may have to first begin to think differently, which is what John the Baptist and Christ mean when they call us to “repentance.” We may have to think differently about those of opposing political views, about gun control, about our approach to the pandemic, about what divides us from others, about social justice and the marginalized, about how we live our faith, and much more. We need to be convinced that, by making this Christmas different, the light of Christ, in which we walk, will overcome the darkness. We need to be convinced that we can bring hope and joy to the world this Christmas.
Gratefully, we have an entire Season to examine our thinking and do things differently. While the “secular” world will soon bring an end to their Christmas, we will continue to celebrate the many bright feasts of this Season. We will have time to pray and reflect on the meaning and purpose of Christ’s birth, and to worship. I invite you to join us for these feasts; including the Feast of the Holy Family, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, and the Feasts of the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord. Continue to keep the hospitality flowing, the lights shining, and the carols playing throughout the season, which itself may be something different for many of us.
The darkness of the world will never overcome the light of Christ in which we walk, and which we bring to our world. Let’s truly make this Season a time of true joy and hope! Let’s not be overcome by the darkness! Let us make this Christmas different.