We must deal with the energy crisis, climate change, war, hate, anxiety, loneliness, injustice, and much more. It might be challenging for some of us to stay happy this Christmas, but we can be alive! Here’s why?
A woman in Soviet Russia, when asked if Christianity made her happy, replied, “You are not a Christian to be happy; you’re not in the church to be happy but to be alive!”
Perhaps Christmas is not meant to make us happy. Maybe it reminds us that we can be recreated to feel alive again.
Different people have different ideas about what Christmas is all about. But there is usually much excitement, like shopping, carol services, dinners, and family get-togethers.
As a teenager, Christmas meant singing carols. Church groups spread Christmas cheer in India by going from house to house and singing carols. We usually start around 10 PM and end around 3 AM. In India, home visits meant food. So, carol-rounds meant a variety of cuisines in a single evening!
What more could a teenager want than tasty, spicy, steamy food and a nice cup of hot coffee on a cold December night? This was something I looked forward to with much anticipation!
On one of these nights, we had just finished singing in a couple of houses and were on our way to the next. A worker on a building site stopped us and asked for our help. His wife reportedly had complications, and he asked us if we could take her to the hospital down the street.
I knew right away that if we were going to help them, our plans would have to change. A lot of tasty food was going to be wasted. In any case, we did the right thing – we made adjustments and accommodated this disruption!
That early morning, amid the disruption and my displeasure, a child was born. When I heard that baby cry, I knew we had opened our hearts to something more profound.
It was the same around the time Jesus was born. There was much anticipation. For Mary, it was what a child conceived by the Holy Spirit would look like. Where will the King of the Jews, who will rule over the conquered peoples, be born?
And all of this is met with some disruption. There’s no room for Mary and Joseph. The wise men meet Herod, and their lives are in danger. A blood bath followed this. In the midst of all of this, the child, Jesus, is born.
Mary, the Magi, and the shepherds experienced something much more profound, despite the discomfort caused by the disruption.
- Mary continued to treasure all these things in her heart and to ponder them (Lk 2:19).
- The Magi were overjoyed (Mt 2:10).
- The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen (Lk 2:20).
What is Christmas like for us this year? Do we look forward to shopping, a Christmas tree, gifts, food, and dinner with the whole family? In the middle of all this excitement, we must deal with the energy crisis, climate change, war, hate, anxiety, loneliness, injustice, and much more.
We experience suffering, which is the disruption in our lives. St. Athanasius says that God acts because the world he made in his own image is suffering. The antidote to this suffering is to open ourselves up to God’s act of love through the birth of Jesus. Christmas every year reminds us that God loves us.
Just as my heart softened that night in the hospital, Christmas gives us a chance to experience something much more profound: God’s infinite, overwhelming love. It might be challenging for some of us to stay happy this Christmas, but we can be alive!