Christmas: Were You There?

 

Fr. Frank Pavone

 
  12/4/2000
 

On Good Friday, we sing, "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" It makes us think of what it would have been like to see Jesus on the cross, and to stand along with Mary, St. John, and the others on the first Good Friday. It is, indeed, one of the most moving of Christian hymns, particularly because the answer to the question is "Yes." We were there, because He died for us, and our sins were on His shoulders. We are there, as He renews that very sacrifice on our altars each day at Mass, and we freely unite our own sacrifices with His.

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.

Our Holy Father has indicated to us that there is indeed a way to be there at the first Christmas, too. He writes the following in his encyclical The Gospel of Life:

"At the dawn of salvation, it is the Birth of a Child which is proclaimed as joyful news: "I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:10-11). The source of this "great joy" is the Birth of the Savior; but Christmas also reveals the full meaning of every human birth, and the joy which accompanies the Birth of the Messiah is thus seen to be the foundation and fulfillment of joy at every child born into the world (cf. Jn 16:21)" (EV, 1).

The Pope links here the birth of Jesus Christ with the birth of every child, and he does so on the level of meaning and joy.

"Christmas … reveals the full meaning of every human birth." Christmas is God joining Himself to us, giving Himself to us -- in fact, marrying us. That also is why each human person comes into the world. The meaning of life is to give and receive love; to give ourselves to God and one another; to achieve the union with God -- in this life and the next -- which is the very purpose of our existence.

The joy of Jesus' birth is "the foundation and fulfillment of joy at every child born into the world." God did not have to come to us, nor did He have to create us. But in fact He does both. Each life, like Christmas itself, is a sign of God's love, a sign that God has not given up on the world, a sign that He keeps giving us a chance. Each life, no matter how limited, is a reflection of the glory of God, as the Word made Flesh is the perfect and exact representation of the Father's glory.

Let us, then, celebrate Christmas by recommitting ourselves to being truly pro-life!