Christmas: A Season of Life

 

Fr. Frank Pavone

 
  12/31/2001
 

St. Augustine said of Christmas, "God became man so that man might become God."

Christmas is about a wondrous exchange of natures: God takes on himself our frail humanity, though without its sin, and we become partakers of the very nature of God (see 2 Peter 1:4). The joy of Christmas is not just that a child is born, but that a whole new humanity is born. This new humanity is not disconnected from the old, but is radically renewed and redeemed. Just as in Adam, all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive (see Romans 5:12-19).

Christmas, then, is about the destiny of the human person. In the Book of Revelation, we read this promise of the Risen Christ to His faithful disciples: "I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne" (Rev. 3:21). Thrones, at the time of the New Testament, characteristically allowed more than one person to sit on them. In heaven, we will not only see God's throne, or gather around God's throne; rather, you and I have a place on the very throne of God!

Now some want to give Christmas a totally "this-worldly" meaning: kindness, goodness, the importance of family, joy, and giving. These are all natural values and have meaning for the Christian. But the Christmas message goes far beyond these good things, and talks about where we are ultimately going, and what kind of destiny awaits us beyond the grave. Moreover, the Faith teaches that this destiny begins even now. "He who believes has eternal life" (John 6:47).

Christmas, then, is about the Gospel of Life. It is about the hope of eternal life offered through the birth of a child, and through our birth into His life by our faith. Christmas, then, illumines the meaning and value of every human person. In the light of the manger, we see every human person as one who is called to share the Divine Nature, as one called to sit with Christ on His throne!

Is it possible for one to accept the Christmas message, and then to turn the other way when human life is despised and destroyed? Can the Christian, who declares that the human person is called to the very heights of heaven, stand idly by when those same human beings are thrown in the garbage by abortion, or disposed of by euthanasia?

The hymn "O Holy Night" sums up this lesson in the verse which sings, "Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love, and His Gospel is peace. Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, and in His name, all oppression shall cease."

That's how I'm celebrating Christmas this year: a complete re-dedication to ending abortion, the worst form of oppression of my brothers and sisters. I hope that's how you celebrate it too. A child is born, and His birth immerses us in the defense and celebration of life!