My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Be grateful to God for the gifts that you receive and the Lord will give you whatever you need. We cannot be reminded enough about the true meaning of Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ.
As we look to this Christmas, we recognize that the world has not changed that much since last year. The Prince of Peace will come spiritually into the world and into our hearts. And yet the rancor, the wars, and the dangers of the world still continue to exist. What is the true meaning of the birth of the Prince of Peace? What salvation has Jesus brought to the world since it seems to be no different than from the time that he first entered the world?
Christmas is a time when we remember that God became man, took upon Himself human flesh, and participated in the world as He found it. The power He unleashed is that the divine nature has touched the human nature, not only in the person of Jesus Himself but also in our own lives. We, in a certain sense, have been deified because God has touched us by coming into the world. For we who are baptized even more so, as we have been incorporated into Christ who lived, died, and rose from the dead. His birth is the beginning of that mystery of salvation that we all benefit from in our lives.
The world celebrates Christmas in a different way, however. The decorations, the gift-giving, the shopping, and so much more, all of which have some rooting in the mystery of welcoming the God-man to earth. Again, without a true understanding, this all can become useless activity when we cannot truly celebrate Christmas for what it is. For it is a day of rejoicing because the Lord has entered the world, and we are saved from the ultimate realities of dying without being able to enter the presence of God.
Christmas is a time to rejoice. The true joy, however, cannot be acquired in the things of creation. Rather, we must approach the Creator Himself, the God of the Universe, who became man, who made Himself humble and dependent on Mary and Joseph for His very existence. The example of God entering the world in the humble circumstances of the manger in which He was placed in Bethlehem reminds us of the needs of the world in which we live.
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, recently went to the town of Greccio in Italy where St. Francis went in the 13th century. He brought together the townspeople to form a live manger scene complete with a baby in the manger and the people of the village dressed in appropriate costumes, remembering not only the coming of the shepherds but also of the wise men. St. Francis, who understood the humility of human nature and wished to die lying on the ground, also understood the great mystery of the Incarnation and birth of Jesus Christ.
We, too, by looking upon the Christmas crèche wherever we find it in Church, and hopefully also in our homes, recognize that humble beginning of the work of redemption, of saving the world from itself.
We must become participants in the saving of the world. We must by our lives witness to the fact that we believe the world, with all of its untidiness, with all of its manifestations of evil, truly is saved from a terrible end which would not have happened if Jesus had not entered the world and taken upon Himself human flesh.
The message of Christmas truly is one in which we recognize that God has put out into the deep recesses of human nature and transformed it. The sin of Adam and Eve, was a happy fault as we say at Easter, now gives way to the grace that God is among us. This is what we celebrate each Christmas; Emmanuel. God is among us; we cannot fear, we must witness to the fact that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son for our salvation.