When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:15-20)
December is an incredibly busy time for many of us. Students and teachers have exams or term papers to work on as the school semester winds down. Many of us have holiday preparations and parties or concerts to add to our already busy schedules. These are of course good things, unless we allow the bustle to overwhelm us and send us into a frenzy. Others, however, find December an especially “blue” time for a variety of reasons: perhaps the season brings back memories of events better forgotten, or perhaps loneliness or poverty have an especial sting at holiday time.
For Christians, the season of Advent leads into the season of Christmas. Through both of these seasons we reflect on the meaning of God’s incarnation in the world as Jesus, our Savior. Advent is a time of waiting, watching, and expectation. It is important to take time out of your schedule, no matter how busy, to reflect on God’s incarnation.
Christmas is of course a time of joy and sharing, but it is so much more than that. It is the season we celebrate, as the apostle Paul put it, God humbling Himself to be “found in human form” (Phillippians 2:7). Richard Rohr, Franciscan priest and author, says that it is the incarnation, rather than the resurrection, that is the redemption, “because in Jesus’ birth God was already saying that it was good to be human and that God was on our side.” It is indeed good to be human, made in God’s image. It is also wonderful that God took on the image of humankind so we could have redemption and a perfect example of a perfect human being to follow and emulate.
Each of us falls short of the perfect example of full humanity Jesus showed us. But I pray during the season of Advent and the upcoming season of Christmas, we all can reflect on the amazing gift that is the one true gift of Christmas, and ponder the meaning in our hearts.
A blessed Christmas to you all!