The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
December 25th, 2021 – The Nativity of the Lord - Luke 2:1-14
The Church offers some options for Christmas Mass readings. I have chosen for our consideration the gospel that most closely resembles the crib set that sits on the mantle of our fireplace. It’s the gospel by Luke that mentions the manger with the Christ child, Mary his mother and Joseph his father, with other parts in this divine drama played by angels overhead and shepherds on the ground. It’s an account that could amaze us and give us increased hope in our troubled times. If we pay full attention.
This Christmas is my 83rd celebration of the feast that marks the most important day in the entire history of planet Earth. We now know that the exact date of the Nativity is unknown, but selecting a date that more of less coincides with the “the return of the sun – an ancient Roman feast - is quite fitting. The Son of God appears as more sunlight shines over Bethlehem. The birth of Jesus is truly a cosmic event. An occurrence of massive terrestrial significance. Although you might have noticed that first Christmas was quite ordinary. I don’t think it was even mentioned in The Bethlehem Times.
And sadly today, I must add that the original meaning of Christmas seems to be less and less a matter of public awareness or interest. I’m not one to be critical of gift-giving, connecting with family and friends or even the office Christmas party, but …
Certainly, I hope that many keep in mind the reason for this season. Most Christian churches, whatever their denomination, try their best to remind us of the first Christmas. But they are up against what seems to be the full bag of tricks that our consumer culture thrives on. And this secular meaning of Christmas seems to increase with each passing year. But I state this not as a hostile judgment. After all, the world of goods and services provides many with a healthy livelihood and a means to simply survive.
But still it leaves room, I believe, for the authentic meaning to come through. And that’s where personal responsibly comes in. And the need for this effort cannot be overstated given the media’s massive effort to turn Christmas into a commercial event.
For starters, I suggest we carefully monitor our thoughts, our habits, and our imagination during Christmastime. What are our concerns? Does our personal Christmas thinking include the great event of God becoming one of us? Do we reflect on the ordinary way this happened in Bethlehem? Granted, the externals of Christmas way be confusing and distracting, but there always remains the birth of Jesus. Think about that!
©David M. Thomas, PhD