By the time December 24 shows its face, I’m a lethargic blob sitting by the decorated tree, trying to muster the energy to get the baking and wrapping done. Most of us have a myriad of jobs to do before throwing celebrations, and some poor souls (my husband included) even have last minute shopping to accomplish before Christmas Eve Mass. We squeeze our sore feet into high heels or dress shoes, pack up all the kiddos, cookies and presents and hit the parties. Late at night we come home (or clean up if we’re hosting) and get ready for Santa’s visit. After midnight our heads slam into the pillows and we’re nearly comatose until the little angels wake us up at 5:00 AM.
And of course, amidst the flurry of activity, we try our best to get spiritually ready for Christ’s coming.
It’s good to embrace life by socializing with family and friends at Christmastime– and growing in our faith. But why do we knock ourselves out each year–buying into the commercialization of the holy day–when our focus should be on Baby Jesus and His saving Grace?
And if we think we’re exhausted, how must Pope Benedict XVI, at age 84, feel with such relevant responsibilities? My husband and I are the shepherds of our nine little sheep, but Joseph Ratzinger is The Pontiff–the shepherd of us all!
At the Christmas Eve Mass held at St. Peter’s Bascilica, our “Papa” was fatigued. He had a moving platform glide him down the aisle because he wanted to be among the faithful, but needed to conserve energy for his heavy schedule. Even though he was worn out and had a cough, he delivered a poignant message lamenting Christmas consumerism and told us to center our thoughts on God’s appearance as a child.
His 10 Great Points:
1. The joy of Christmas for the early Church was that God had appeared and was no longer a mere idea.
2. The kindness and love of God our Savior for mankind was revealed and this is the new, consoling certainty that is granted to us at Christmas.
3. A child, in all its weakness, is Mighty God. A child, in all its neediness and dependence, is Eternal Father. And His peace has no end.
4. We love your childish estate, your powerlessness, but we suffer from continuing presence of violence in the world, and so we also ask you: manifest your power, O God.
5. In 1223, when St. Francis of Assisi celebrated Christmas with an ox and ass and a manger full of hay…he kissed images of the Christchild with great devotion and he stammered tender words such as children say. Francis loved the child Jesus, because for him it was in this childish estate that God’s humility shone forth.
6. In the child born in the stable at Bethlehem, we can as it were touch and caress God.
7. God became poor…He made himself dependent, in need of human love, He put himself in the position of asking for human love–our love.
8. Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light.
9. If we want to find the God who appeared as a child, then we must dismount from the high horse of our “enlightened” reason. We must set aside our false certainties, our intellectual pride, which prevents us from recognizing God’s closeness.
10. We must bend down, spiritually we must as it were go on foot, in order to pass through the portal of faith and encounter the God who is so different from our prejudices and opinions–the God who conceals himself in the humility of a newborn baby.
Next year during Advent I hope to take the pope’s advice. I will try to spend more time kissing images of the Christchild and less time worrying about the snow globe of activities. I’m going to make an effort to not get caught up in the superficial glitter. What about you?