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12/25/19 Christmas - Fr. Reggie

The History Chanel tells us this: “Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion.”

 They´re right – and also completely wrong. Yes, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. No, he was not a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of our religion. Jesus Christ is God: Christmas means that God became a little baby. Christmas means that God entered our world.

The gospel we just read tells us that the “Word became Flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The Greek word St John uses for flesh is sarx. St Paul uses the same word to describe our human nature, with all its weaknesses and limitations. God truly became one of us. Christ is not a phantom or an idea. In him, God has truly become visible. We can touch him. We can hear him. We can see the human face of God.

Pope Benedict once asked, “What did Jesus actually bring? We still have wars. We still get sick. People still suffer. We still die. What did Jesus bring?” His answer? “Jesus brings us God.”

This is what we celebrate at Christmas. Jesus brings us God. 

In his book The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, Brennan Manning tells the following story. It was a few days before Christmas, and he was stuck in line in an airport. A severe snowstorm had grounded the flights, and frustration was building. Some people were crying. Some people were shouting. Some people were staring blankly off into space. However, one person hadn’t succumbed to the circumstances. A few seats away, he saw a woman holding a child in her arms and laughing. Perhaps a bit peeved, Manning asked her, “Would you mind telling me why you’re so happy?” She replied, “Sure. Christmas is coming, and that Baby Jesus – he makes me laugh.” That brought to mind the words of Psalm 16: “I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.

Christmas gives us Jesus and Jesus gives us God. That’s the cause for unending joy. 

The cause of Christian joy isn’t presents. The cause of Christian joy isn’t a trouble-free life. The cause of Christian joy is Jesus Christ, God-With-Us.

This Christmas, let’s open up space for God. How?

10 minutes a day for prayer. The next eight days are particularly dedicated to celebrating Christmas. In the Catholic tradition, this is called the Octave of Christmas.  So from today up until (and including) January First, let’s commit to dedicating 10 minutes a day to prayer.

Here’s a suggestion. Take the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2, verses 2-20. Read that for a few minutes. Then speak with Christ. Thank him for the gift of his presence. Ask him how he’s hoping we respond. Ask him to help us love him more.

As we do this, we’re opening up space for God to give us his strength and joy. And let’s not stop on January 1st!

We’re going to receive the Eucharist in a few minutes – God With Us. The Word became Flesh and made his dwelling among us. In the Eucharist, he makes his dwelling in our souls.

Jesus gives us God, let us rejoice and be glad!



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