Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas In the Midst of Darkness

Adoration of the Shepherds

I agree.  Let's take down the giant snowmen decorations in our front yards, cancel our "Holiday" Parties, and return all of the ridiculous and wasteful presents that we bought one another.  If Christmas is nothing more than a secular event whereby we eat and drink and talk only about reindeer and elves, then it seems disrespectful to persevere this year.  Children have been murdered and their parents are grieving.  How could we possibly justify having a good time?  If Christmas is about preserving some social customs that are unrelated to anything more serious, the right thing to do this year is respectfully pack up the decorations, return the gifts, and rescind the dinner invitations.  There is way too much pain and grief present in our society this year to justify having a party just for the sake of having a party.  Let's at least have some common decency and and skip Christmas this year.  When we empty Christmas of its true meaning and replace it with socially acceptable secular ideas, it devolves into frenzied and indecorous behavior that is certainly an insult to those who are mourning. 

There are only, in my opinion, two real options for us this year.  We should either skip the silliness or we should celebrate Christmas for what it really is.  Christmas is about God drawing close to those who dwell in darkness.  Christmas is joyful not because the world is a perfect place without suffering and evil.  Christmas is joyful because God has given us his Son.  God has come to us and entered into the pain of our human condition.  He has come to us to be close to us and to offer us his friendship. 

When the organ sounds at Midnight in my parish, when the bells peel on Christmas Day, when children are dressed in their Christmas best and their parents give them gifts, when I sit down for a Christmas Dinner and have some Christmas wine, I will not feel like I am mocking those who are filled with sorrow and burdened with grief.  I will be testifying to the good news that Jesus is close to those broken hearted parents.  Jesus loves them and is at their side.  I will be honoring the only possible good news there could ever be left for those poor people: a savior has come into the world.  That savior brings with him the hope of the new creation.  What has been lost will be saved.  What is dark shall come to light.  What is wounded shall be healed.  What has been stolen shall be restored. 

In celebrating Christmas this year, I do so for the sake of those poor people in Newtown.  I do so in testimony to the Light.  "The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it."  Christmas has increasingly been reduced to total silliness, hollow sentimentality, and overindulgent consumerism.  We would have a real nerve perpetuating that kind of stuff this year.  The only way to celebrate Christmas this year is to return to its true meaning.  Christmas is a feast of faith.  It is a time to celebrate with joy the good news that God has come to us and loves the people who dwell in darkness. 

Unto us is born a Savior who is Christ and Lord.  Unto those who dwell in darkness and in the land of gloom a light has shone.  God loves the people of Newtown and is close to them.  If ever anyone needed to be close to God and to know that they are loved by him, it's those poor people.  The Good News of Christmas is, now and always, good news.  And, we need to hear and celebrate that Good News now. 

If we celebrate Christmas this year because it is December 25th and we are supposed to, I think we act like insensitive fools.  If we celebrate Christmas this year because we want to tell all of those who dwell in darkness that God is close to them, then we act like angels who bring glad tidings.  This year, let's do the work of angels.


  1. I wish I could go to Midnight Mass at St. Mary's this year. Hands down the most beautiful Christmas Mass I have ever attended. Merry Christmas!

  2. Thank you for this post, it is beautiful and I wish all could read it.