|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
True Meaning of Christmas
There was once a wealthy family who gave a large party for the baptism of their youngest child. When all of their guests arrived, all the food and drink was ready. As everyone came in, their jackets were taken and put on the bed in the guest bedroom.
At some point in the party, somebody asked, “Where is the little baby?” The nurse was summoned to go and find the child. The child could not be found anywhere. After some time of frantically looking, they remembered the last place they had seen the child was in the guest bedroom playing on the bed. Sure enough, there was the child smothered under all the coats and jackets; the baby was fast asleep.
The very reason for the celebration was the child and yet in the midst of the party itself, they forgot the child, smothered by their own jackets.
Sometimes when we get to Christmas, the same thing happens to us. Christmas, and the baby Jesus, is smothered by the decorations, the Christmas trees, the gifts, the packaging, the parties, the shopping; it is sad that while we celebrate we forget what we are celebrating, which is Christ Jesus born among us.
It is not that we do it intentionally. We just get carried away with what goes on in our life. Who among us does not get caught up in the last week or so? Who does not have a little chaos on Christmas Eve, trying to get ready for Christmas Day? We have to ask, “Where is the baby Jesus?”
Yes, we have to return back to the true message of Christmas. Christ came among us in poverty, humility and obscurity. God our Creator, loves us so much that he becomes one of us so that we will intimately know that he loves us. It is about Christ, God becoming human!
And when we celebrate Christ’s birth, we celebrate it as a historical thing. But how do we become that Christ to others? It is not enough just to celebrate the birth of Christ, we have to become Christ to others. That is what we do at this table each Sunday. We come to receive Christ and to become Christ to others.
By all means when we go home today and spend this Christmas with our family and friends, enjoy them and recognize that these are probably the most important people in our life. Treasure them and recognize that and celebrate that.
It is important that when we see a stranger that we smile and say hello to them; when we see a homeless person that we greet them and recognize the dignity of their humanity.
Their situation is unfortunate but that we do not make it worse by ignoring them. That we reach out to other people, who have hurt us and forgive them; and to make a difference in this world. We bring that the real message of Christmas back alive by being the Body of Christ to others. That is the true meaning of Christmas.