Christmas is my favorite liturgical season. The joy of anticipation and the joy of realization, when the Child Jesus is finally in our midst, creates a feeling of both wonder and nostalgia. I realize the fact that Christmas can mean different things to different people. For our elderly residents living in the Home it is a moment of loneliness and pain. The loss of physical independence and the loss of family and friends, both because of distance and death, could bring about feelings of depression. For most people, Christmas can mean work, lots of head-spinning work- unavoidable circumstances entailed in one's means of livelihood or other duties and obligations called forth by one's state in life. It could mean a string of customers to satisfy, employees to be thanked, and friends to show love and gratitude to. But despite all these, when the dust finally settles and the last box of gifts is wrapped, and when the soul finally gets itself down to adore and listen to church-bells ringing, the full reality of the hustle and bustle is brought home to consciousness- it is Christmas, a Child is born, Jesus.
Then our hearts begin to quicken and our eyes open to the awesome gift given to us. We begin to have an understanding, limited as it may be, of the wonder and miracle of love. Love is the fuel that keeps Christmas burning. It is the love of God from the very beginning of time, the love of the Son who came to fulfill the Father's wish, the love of Mary who accepted the call to be the vessel of the Incarnate, and the love that burns in our hearts for those we hold dear. That is why we endure the discomforts of work and toil, that is why we forgive and forget wrongs done to us, why we patch up tattered relationships - all because we love. The love shown us by the Father and the Love made Incarnate, is the same flame of love that burns in our sinful hearts. Imperfect as this love may be, tainted as it may seem, we share in the Divine Sonship.
As I behold in love and muted wonder the crib in my cell, my heart expands at the thought that this Child, celebrated by Kings, Popes, Saints, and all people alike, came just for me. Here in my cell, He and I alone, exchange intimacies of the heart, hidden from all others. At the sight of Him lying in this crib of hay, the wonderful Pandora box of promises is opened - Peace, Surrender, Sacrifice, Joy, humility, new beginning, eternal happiness- all promises of a New Year. Whatever was in our life's slate this past 2017, the promise of 2018 opens wide. Yes, the darkness has now passed, the rays of dawn had cast its full light, the Morning Star of our lives, has finally come. Oh what joy! What gift! The whole world is grateful! In the inner recesses of our hearts- we are speechless. We can only accept it with loving disbelief.
Lord Jesus, as you have given us much, grant us the joy of giving you something this Christmas and all the days of our lives. Bring to fruition all the good desires you have inspired in us. Just as you gave yourself to us because of your inestimable love, help us to extend ourselves to others. Just as you were Gift to us, undeserving as we are, let us be gifts for others, undeserving we may think them to be. As the New Year opens wide its door, let us enter confidently, hopefully and joyfully with full expectations realizing that we can always begin again. Help us to hold on to the joys and graces of these days. Imperfect as we are, you know that we love You and desire only to follow You, all the days of our lives. "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life!"