We live in a country which too often celebrates “Consumas” rather than Christmas, consumerism rather than the Christ child. We are deluged with advertising reminding us that we “deserve the very best” and that “to show her or him that you really care” you have to buy what’s in style or fashion right now, what’s the latest trend or gizmo or gadget. I heard a comment recently that “If it weren’t for consumerism, many people probably wouldn’t even think of Christmas.” Is that really what Christmas is all about?

Image of Christmas presentsMaybe what we think of is the more comfortable spirit we find in church Christmas pageants and nativity scenes – Mary and Joseph, finding no room in the inn, ending up in a stable among the animals where baby Jesus is born, with angels hovering overhead and local shepherds bowing low in wonder and awe.

But can there be a deeper meaning to Christmas in today’s world? Can we see in Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and then the flight into Egypt the face and the plight of immigrants today, forced to leave their homes because of oppression or violence? Can we see in ourselves the angels or the shepherds welcoming the strangers, watching over the Latin American immigrants or Syrian refugees at our door? Or do we succumb to the fear-mongering and close the doors of our hearts and minds?

How can we, how do we, keep Christ in Christmas? Sister Joan Chittister, in her booklet “Sparks of Advent Light,” says, “Christmas is about giving the world a glimpse of what the Christ Child would look like if we ever allowed him to be born in us.”

Christmas is a time to reflect not only on Jesus as baby born in a stable, but also on Jesus as a human being and what that means for us. Does my relationship with Jesus move beyond the comfort of the baby in the stable to the Jesus who welcomed the stranger, who preached and practiced love as the greatest commandment, to the Jesus who challenged the hypocrisy of the civil and religious leaders of his day? Celebrating Christmas, the manifestation of God in humankind, must be a year-round effort to live as Jesus lived, to do what Jesus would do.

The true spirit of Christmas is bringing the spirit of Jesus, the spirit of love and compassion and forgiveness and honesty and acceptance and justice, to birth over and over again. My prayer is that God may be born again in us throughout every day of our lives, and may Christmas remind us of that reality and give us cause for special celebration.

Article courtesty of Sister Jeanne Wingenter, Shalom-JPIC staff.

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