I bring you news of great joy for all the people. (Lk 2:10)
This Christmas is the second in which we find ourselves celebrating while Covid-19 reminds us not to take everything for granted and shows us that, despite our optimism in directing our own paths, life and times are unpredictable.
Christmas is not an escape from a tough world into a fanciful retreat; rather, it is an affirmation that the human story is the place of God’s engagement with humanity and that happens in the here-and-now, in good times and testing times, in the unfolding of our lives. God-with-us, Emmanuel. That is our reason to pause and celebrate. “I bring you news of great joy for all the people”.
Christians will always know, and celebrate, the meaning of Christmas, but it is a celebration for all. Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury preached “Christmas is the gift of Christians to the world”.
Christmas offers the world, of all faiths and none, in all its diversity, the opportunity to stop, to renew family relationships and to exercise the best of our common humanity. It challenges nations and institutions by its message of peace and goodwill for all. “There was no room for them” (Lk 2:7) haunts us as we witness the plight of refugees and migrants in our time where millions are abandoned, without security or identity, to the rivalries of our contemporary Herods.
Christmas certainly keeps alive these values of kindness, care for the poor, and being at peace with the world, in the hope that we might replicate them throughout the year. But the Word was made flesh promises more, being graced with God’s DNA – joy – the joy of being alive, the joy of being loved, the joy of knowing that God is the remedy to the struggle of our human journey.
Pope Francis says “A Christian is a man, or a woman, of joy: a man and a woman with joy in their heart. There is no Christian without joy!” It is joy that is at the heart of Christmas.
Joy to the world!
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
The wonders of His love
Joy to the world!
Image: Nativity Scene by Colum Keating