What makes Christmas more meaningful?

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The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Herbert “Bubi” Scholz SVD — Steyl, Netherlands

3rd Sunday of Advent

Photo: Lighted Hilltop Church in Irosin, Sorsogon

Before Christmas, not long ago, I got a video clip from Italy, a cartoon. It showed people in Christmas mood, busy preparing gifts, writing cards.

A voice was heard commenting on the scene, evidently the voice of Jesus. He wondered: “They are celebrating my birthday; they invite others and give gifts. But strange, I have not been invited to my birthday, no gifts for me. It seems they have forgotten me.”

I think we easily recognize the reason why someone made such a video. Christmas is the birthday of Jesus, But there is a danger that even in Christmas 2022, the most essential might be missing; of course, that will make our Christmas joy incomplete. Can we make Christmas better, more meaningful? Today’s Gospel does not directly mention the birth of Jesus Christ. But it gives us precious hints for a better Christmas.

The Gospel clearly mentions what is typical of Christmas: good things, gifts, given because Jesus is there. The list of gifts: “The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” And Jesus adds: “Blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

All of these things point to Christmas. But the last two things have a particularly strong connection with Christmas.

The first of these two things comes after the enumeration of the healing of the blind, deaf, lame, namely Jesus’ promise of “good news for the poor.” Today, I think, with these words, Jesus wants to tell us: “Don’t forget the poor this Christmas!” Let them, too, share in the good things, not only the economically poor, but also those who are in a miserable condition.

The second thing strongly connected with Christmas refers to Jesus himself and begins with the words “Blessed, happy.” “Blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” Taking offense means feeling annoyed, keeping away from the person, refusing any contact. Jesus knew that some would not think of him. Therefore, at the height of the Christmas preparations, we are reminded with these words, “Don’t forget Jesus this Christmas!” On this Christmas, those who are close to Jesus will be truly happy, having a crib, giving time to prayer and Mass.

The two things so important for a truly happy Christmas, which today’s Gospel highlights, are already present in the first Christmas. The good news of Christ’s birth was first announced to the poor, the shepherds. And the first thing the shepherds did was to look for Jesus himself.

This Christmas, don’t forget the poor, don’t forget Jesus himself.

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