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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

CHRISTMAS 2013

 

 

Well, here we are approaching the big event that all the preparation has been leading up to, but  the even bigger question is this, “Has all our preparation been about tinsel and glitter without anything else, especially the spiritual preparation that the Advent Season calls for?” That is the same type of spiritual preparation that we are called to undertake during Lent when we prepare for Holy Week and Easter. Many people forget the real reason for Christmas as the secular preparations overtake and often undermine the Spiritual reasons which are much more important than the externals of tinsel and glitter.

 Preparing for Christmas is often a very tense time with extra hours at work, standing for hours at the end of queues at the shops as the craziness goes on around us. And spending more time with families and friends can be an endurance test in many ways to say the least!! Having said this, we need to remember that for some people Christmas is not all it seems as they deal with the stresses of not being able to provide a good time for the members of their families.

 We need to remember that in many houses throughout the country things are not as good as they might be or they might have been in the past. Children are not unwrapping the presents as they have none. Many families are not preparing to sit down to a big Christmas dinner because they are going hungry again.  People have lost their faith, faith in God and man. Many others sit in dark despair, wondering where exactly the light will come from and who will bring it to them. And it simply put it is the baby in the manger who is  the reason for the season that brings the light of God into the world.

During these days of celebration we will often have occasion to sing as the angels did long ago, “Glory to God in the highest!” At this time when we celebrate the birth of “a saviour who has been born for us”, the One who is “Wonder- Counsellor and Prince of Peace,” the One who is “a great light” in the darkness of war and strife around us, we welcome an opportunity to put aside our cares and worries, bask in the joy and generosity of the season, and sing out our “Glory to God in the highest as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. And as we do this we cannot forget those who are less well off than we are those who have little or nothing at all. We are mindful of all the organizations such as the Salvation Army and the St. Vincent De Paul who do so much good for so many at this time of year and throughout the whole year.

None of us will travel to Bethlehem to behold the newborn infant in the way the shepherds and the wise men did in their time. But all of us travel the road of daily life, and we are called to see Jesus the newborn Infant in the youngster who needs companionship, the teenager who needs a listening ear, the parent who needs a helping hand, the older person who needs someone to care, to name but a few. There are so many others. We remember in a special way all those who have died since last Christmas and we keep their families in our thoughts and prayers. Some of our Christmas customs seem to turn away from Christ. Or do they? The giving of gifts expresses love of the other person. Festive decorations set this season apart from all others.

Santa Claus was originally St. Nicholas, who was bishop of Myra in Lycia which is now in Turkey he was remembered for his generosity. Every letter sent and received bears the stamp of this special season, tidings of good will, and a reminder that those who are far away are close to us in mind and heart. The customs of this season are veiled announcements of one message: Christ is born for us. To remove the veil, to hear the good news, we gather together in our churches. There the message of Christmas speaks loud and clear. The Letter to the Hebrews says, “In times past, God spoke in various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he has spoken to us through his Son.”

 The customs of Christmas speak the message in partial ways, but God speaks the message clearly through his Son, who is born in our midst this Christmas day. On this day the whole community of heaven joins with all believers of good will on earth in a jubilant song of praise and thanksgiving for the good news proclaimed by the angels: Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people, for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10-11). So, with Mary and Joseph with the shepherds and Angels and the Archangels and the whole company of heaven, let us take this story and the good news of great joy into our hearts and let the joy and peace flourish within us and around us this Christmas.

Let us be thankful for this great light that is Christ the light of the world. Let us keep the light burning brightly in our hearts and in our lives.  Let us hold this simple story of Jesus birth in the Manger in our hearts throughout the year as we continue to travel the often bumpy roads of daily life and living.  As we proclaim Come let us adore him Christ the Lord, the child in the Manger, the true reason for Christmas.

 

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