As we enter the second half of Advent, the liturgy focuses more specifically on the Incarnation and birth of Jesus at the first Christmas. We think about Mary’s initial fear and uncertainty in the face of her unexpected pregnancy. Then, in every Church in the world, believers spiritually rush to her side to eagerly await with her the birth of the Savior.
The best way for a parish to celebrate Christmas is to rush physically to the side of those in the community who, like Mary, are uncertain and afraid about their pregnancy. We are to accompany them through their pregnancy with support and encouragement, and help them experience the fact that every birth reflects the joy of the birth of Christ.
One of the Christmas songs playing on the radio in these days is called “Grown Up Christmas list.” The singer says that the list is not for herself, but for a world in need. This list includes, “no more lives torn apart, that wars may never start…that right would always win.”
Christmas is a time for wishing for good things, because we know that God has given us His Son — and if He has gone that far, as St. Paul declares, how will He not give us everything else besides?
Let us increase our longing, then, that every life may be secure, safe from the violence of abortion and euthanasia, and from the ravages of poverty, crime, and war. Let us write our Christmas list with confidence.
On Good Friday, we sing, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” We imagine standing along with Mary, St. John, and the others on the first Good Friday. And the answer to the question is “Yes.” We were there, because He died for us, and our sins were on His shoulders.
What about Christmas? What if we sang, “Were you there when the King of Kings was born?” Nativity scenes, and the meditations which spiritual writers provide us about that first Christmas, help us enter in to the drama and meaning of that event.
There is a way to be there, and it is to open ourselves to the joy and meaning of the birth of every child – to see in each child, even the unwanted and unexpected, a reflection of the Christ who comes even today.