Monday, December 24, 2012

The real power of Christmas

I am sure that there are many people who have reflected on the true meaning of Christmas.  I cannot be the only one.  But I do believe that as a regular blogger who tries to put his two-cents’ worth of spiritual reflection online once a week, it behooves me to write on this topic as Christmas falls on us this week. 

Is this a season for children?  Some have made this comment, and I do remember my own father making this remark in my younger days.  He was possibly influenced by the advertising industry that he was in, and saw how much commercialization there was during the lead up to this day.  After all, it cannot be argued against that there is this whole toy culture that surrounds Christmas, though in this day and age, it is not just children who hanker after toys.  But the seeming innocence of the Christmas story and the fact that it is a child who is born in very dire circumstances may lead one to think that Christmas is a time that is for the child than for the adults.

But is it really?  On the surface it may appear to be so.  But the entire theology and spirituality behind the incarnation is anything but infantile or facile.  The juxtaposition of the powerful being subsumed and overpowered by the powerless, the overturning of the values of the world by the entering of the one who created the world, the contrast between the earthly kings against the supreme power of the heavenly king are things that are beyond the grasp of the mind of the child, and how non-violence in God is the only answer to the violence of humankind.  It is after all, the celebration of the greatest intellectual mystery of all time, when God’s justice comes into the world in such a hitherto unseen way. 

But isn’t the real power of Christmas in actual fact the real and unfathomable power of God?  It is the forgiving mercy of God that comes to us in a way that we could never have planned or prepared for.  That is what Advent is essentially – to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord into our lives.  That is why we need to experience at this time the forgiveness of God through either penitential services or the individual Sacrament of Reconciliation.  It is one concrete way that allows us to make that room for God to enter where before, there was only room for our selfish and individualistic ways.  But there are many who do not feel the need to make that confession before Christmas.  Perhaps it is because they have not seen the reality of God’s great desire to make that breakthrough into the hardened hearts of ours. 

There is a great innocence that surrounds Christmas that needs to be recaptured and re-appreciated.  We cannot hope to grasp a glimpse of this innocence if we have not sought God’s re-establishment of our individual innocence through his divine forgiveness that is bestowed on us at Confession.  Some parishes have elaborate Christmas cribs that bespeak of this innocence, and these will have little worth if the parishioners can only admire the detail of this work of art, and have not looked with as much detail at their own hearts.  All iconography and Church art has to have the purpose of leading one to experience and encounter the divine. 

It was, after all, our own sin that had caused the incarnation to take place.  For this reason alone, we ought to show gratitude for the fact by admitting the need for God’s mercy and forgiveness. 

Whenever one truly meets God in his offering of forgiveness, the result is always the experience of a deep and abiding joy that comes to our hearts, principally because we are at our most vulnerable and least pretentious in the confession.  We present our truest, most raw self that God knows, and we seek God’s love in that state.  No one leaves the confession miserable and angry, resentful and bitter (at least no one should).  We come out with great hope for ourselves and for the world, and we come out with our faith restored and our souls touched and healed.  Christmas joy is very much connected to this. 

I wish each of my precious blog readers a most joyful Christmas that is filled with the real power of God’s healing love.


  1. Blessed Christmas Fr Luke,yes this is the very first Christmas:God has granted me the Grace to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and truly experience the birth of Christ in the Eucharistic celebration and at home.Thank you once again Fr Luke for the meaning-filled blog which guides me in my daily living.It is a true treasure.!!!:)

  2. An ancient myth tells of the story of Creation that the Supreme One first created some sea clams that were anchored in their sea-beds and did nothing each day except to open and close their mouths to take in food. Next He created the eagle that was able to soar high in the sky. Then He asked Man to choose which he would like to the staid and boring life of the clams or enjoy the freedom of the eagle......but for that, the eagle pays a price, a sacrifice........... Each day, the eagle has to face the uncertainty of hunting for its food.......... ( excerpt from Folk Tales)

    Dare we - be the eagle?

    The real power of Christmas lies not only in believing in a dream but, more so in- the living out the dream –

    that “God is Love’’ –( as the Gospel of the Evangelist John, proclaimed) and that, in this our ‘messy’ world,- ‘ to live joyously, love tenderly and forgive fully’ – is not a pipe dream......for He came to show us the HOW!

    Without the Incarnation, we can so glibly excuse ourselves, blaming our fallen nature........that makes it impossible to reach out to the Divine. Now that Emmanuel is here, should we not be able to soar with the eagle......without fear?

    God bless you, Fr.