I think what makes Christmas so special for me is children. It is their innocence that really makes it special.  They show a total trust and a total dependence on their parents for everything. Their excitement and anticipation are infectious. Unfortunately, we grow out of that sense of trust and dependence. But, somehow during this season, all the skepticism we develop as we experience the bumps and bruises of life are suspended during Christmas. Hopefully, it is a time when the child in all of us comes out.

Madonna and Child image from Viatorian religious art collection

Hopefully too, it is a time of reflection when we look at our lives and our blessings and realize that we are not responsible for all the good things we have. Upon reflection we realize that they are blessings from God and are not ours to keep but to pass along to others.

The season is one of joy and there is certainly a spirit of joy found in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the footprints of him who brings such glad tidings.” In his typical poetic flair Isaiah saw a herald bringing good news and leaping so nimbly across the mountains that only his footprints are left. That sort of joy is what we celebrate with the birth of Christ.

Christmas is also a time when family and friends gather. It is not so much a time to receive presents wrapped so carefully and placed under the tree. It is a time to gather with people who are significant in our lives and recognize that they are a much more important gift.

In our lectionary, we have four different sets of readings for Christmas: The Vigil, Midnight Mass, the Mass at Dawn, and the Mass during the day. During the first three we hear the traditional Christmas stories. However, in the Mass during the day, we reflect upon who Jesus is for us as a Christian community and who he is for us individually. ‘Who is Christ for you?’ That is the most important question that you will ever have to answer.

Christ’s birth changed the world forever. God’s plan for us is fulfilled through Him. That is the greatest gift of all.

May God bless you and your family during this blessed season.