“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh…” – John 1: 1, 14.
Christmas is one of the most important days of the Church year, second only to Easter itself. It is the feast of the incarnation (the birth), the feast of God becoming flesh (the Latin “in carne” means “enfleshment”). It is a uniquely Christian teaching, the Divine choosing to become one of us. Because of this belief, God is not only Transcendent, but also wholly Immanent, Emmanuel (God-with-us). While remaining Transcendent (meaning we must rise above our present condition to reach Him), He is at the same time Immanent (meaning He is with us as we rise toward Him). Every Eucharist is like Christmas where the bread and wine are transformed into His flesh, His Body and Blood, and, in a sense, He is born anew on the altar.
The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the vigil Masses on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. During this season, we celebrate the birth of Christ into our world and into our hearts, and reflect on the gift of salvation that is born with Him.
The Christmas tree and the Nativity scene are popular symbols of the season and a tradition in many Christian homes. The use of the Christmas tree is relatively modern. Its origins are found in the medieval mystery plays that depicted the tree of paradise and the Christmas light symbolized Christ, the Light of the world. The Nativity scene in its present form owes its origin to St. Francis of Assisi, who made the Christmas crèche or manger for Christmas Eve of 1223.
It is also traditional to exchange Christmas gifts with family and friends as a way to honor God the Father’s gift of His only Son to the world. Having received the gift of Christ, we naturally want to pass that gift along to our loved ones.
Merry Christmas to all of you! May this season fill us with God’s joy, peace, love, and hope always and forever.