Christmas is Not a Holiday…It’s a Game-Changer!

It seems to me that, despite the FoxNews and other cries of a “War against Christmas,” there really is no such thing. Instead, there has been what I think is a much more insidious problem with Christmas that has creeped up over the course of decades and centuries, exacerbated by the increased commercialism and individualism of our (particularly) North American culture. Christmas has become just one more holiday alongside the rest and that to me is the greatest problem. Unlike Independence Day (of whichever country you choose), Memorial Day, St. Patrick’s Day, the Annunciation, Presidents’ Day, and the like, Christmas is not a day for remembering what has only happened in the past. It is not a time for us to pause and, in passing perhaps, reflect on something that took place two thousand years ago and bears little to no impact on us today. On the contrary, Christmas marks the most important moment in Salvation History — the Incarnation, the coming of the Lord, the birth of a child who reveals to us the unseen God, makes visible the invisible and shows us that God’s Reign unfolds in the making of the impossible possible!

Today my reflection begins with what God has done for us in coming to be born as one like us. Do we really pause to consider the significance of that? Francis of Assisi understood this very well. It is the reason why he saw Christmas as the most important feast of the entire Church calendar. He didn’t dismiss the importance and solemnity of Holy Week or other times throughout the year, but realized that if God had not become incarnate, had not entered our world as one like us, then the rest of it would never have happened nor mattered.

What captivated Francis so much was the staggering reality that God is perfectly humble. His reflections on Christmas, the Eucharist and the Cross all focus on this humility of the Creator that would stoop so low to us as to enter our world as a helpless, entirely needy infant; Appear in the simple and most common elements of bread and wine; and suffer and die an innocent death on the Cross for us. At times Francis was remembered to be overwhelmed at the humility and poverty of a God who would do — and continues to do — these things.

That’s what is so amazing about Christmas. Unlike so many other days alongside which this day gets placed, Christmas is a celebration of what God has done and, perhaps more importantly if overlooked, a celebration of what God continues to do for us!

This morning’s readings reveal a glimpse into the overwhelming significance of what God has done for us. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that before the birth of Jesus Christ, God was known in “partial and varied ways.” It was through Creation, Scripture and prayer that the Hebrew people knew the Lord, followed the covenant and came to understand the loving relationship of the Creator in their lives. But, the reading tells us, now we know God in the most perfect, complete way. Just as we can come to know another person only through a real, human relationship with him or her, so too we came to know God through a human relationship.

I like to say that before that first Christmas morning, humanity used to know God like one knows somebody online. You can learn a lot about somebody, even communicate with that person on Facebook, Twitter, through blogs and the like, but you cannot know them, just know about them. This is a contemporary way of looking at the what the Letter to the Hebrews is saying.

But, with God’s entrance into the world as one like us, the game has totally changed. Jesus Christ is the game-changer par excellence! The way that humanity related to God previously had become outdated and finally recognized as imperfect, because, whereas once we were able to know about God, now we can personally know God.

Following the online analogy, what we celebrate today is much more akin to God deciding to finally meet us at a cosmic Starbucks for coffee, or to a favorite restaurant for dinner, or go for a lovely walk in the park with us. No longer did we have to rely on the “varied and partial” ways of coming to know about God, but we forever benefit from the most significant game change in all of human history. It is something that continues to alter our world, move the hearts of saints and sinners alike, shift the relationship between God and humanity forever. This is what we celebrate today.

Happy Solemnity of the Incarnation!
Merry Christmas!

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6 Responses to “Christmas is Not a Holiday…It’s a Game-Changer!”

  1. +Verbum caro facto est+

    +Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis+

    Excellent reflection, although one may not consider a “war” on Christmas by strict definition, there is a conserted effort to remove Christ from the “holiday” season. It has in fact become more about a “holiday” shopping opportunity, and not about real significance, presence, majesty and humble power of this monumental event. I have my own ideas about the whys and hows this has been happening, but in humble respect and awe, I will leave that for another time.

    May God continue to bless and guide you, Deacon Dan, and all our clergy as you strive to serve God completely and wholly, on-behalf of a fallen, broken, and VERY stiff-necked people.

    PAX et vivat Iesus!

  2. William R. Snaer Says:

    Your essay takes off from the same point as a recent offering from Sojourner Jim Wallis. I’ll repeat the advice I offered him:
    Lighten up. Your antipathy toward Fox News has generated an attempt to Scrooge a Christian ally. Sure, the Incarnation is the essential ingredient of Christmas, but it is not an essential ingredient of “The Holidays.” There are different gifts, but the same Spirit. I suggest you accept the contribution that Fox makes toward recognizing the significance of Christmas. It is different from your emphasis, but it is complementary.

  3. Did anyone see Bill Mayer’s comments towards Tim Tebow on Christmas Eve? They are too disgusting for me to repeat, but they certainly point to an obvious cultural bias against Christianity that is pushed most aggressively by liberals (which is why Maher will get a pass from many in the Church).

    • And, he is a fallen Jew. Jared, I personally choose not to even let Mayer into my house, given his athetisic, far-left agenda. “CLICK, next.” I hope you are enjoying the CHRISTMAS-tide, and prosperous New Year!

  4. Matthew, Peace and All Good to you during this Christmas season! You are absolutely right about keeping Maher out of your house. I do the same, except for when he lashes out so aggressively that it makes the news. At any rate, I sometimes wonder how people in the Church can be so vigilant about lampooning one group (such as Fox News), while giving the other side a complete pass. It goes both ways, of course. There are the conservatives who are equally blind to the plank in their own eyes.

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