Christmas Greetings from the Province Center!
As I get older, I, like the character Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, look back at many Christmases past. For me, that one day has changed tremendously in significance over time. As a very young child it was all about the lights and anticipation. Later in early childhood, it was more about the presents I hoped to receive. Later, it was more about time off from school and lots of good food. I don’t think that it was until my adult years that I really began to understand and appreciate the Christmas story.
Like so many things in life, when we hear the same story over and over again, we tend to take it for granted and miss the true message that is being relayed to us. It can be a “yeah, yeah, I know the story” approach. We lose the finer nuances of the story. I believe that, for many, the Christmas story falls into that category.
I believe that Christmas is a great love story. It is a story about how much God loves us, even in our brokenness. He sent his Son into the world to be one like us so as to understand our human trials and tribulations.
He was born in a humble stable according to tradition, not to royalty in a palace. In this way everyone could relate to him.
Scholars tell us that Jesus was most likely born in the spring, not Dec. 25th. That date was chosen later because it coincided with a pagan feast of light during the darkest time of the year as the days began to lengthen. Jesus is the “light of the world” who comes to us in the middle of darkness.
According to scripture this infant was placed in a manger. A manger was a place for food for the animals. In French “manger” means to eat. For me, this is a premonition that this child was to become nourishment for us all. Even the name of the town in which he was born, Bethlehem, translates from the Hebrew to “house of bread.” What a great reminder that Jesus is the “Bread of Life.”
Like most parents, Mary and Joseph looked upon Him in awe. They were a bit frightened and confused by the visit of the magi and the voices of the angels. They must have thought, like all new parents, who will this child become?
Even the name Jesus given to this child has tremendous significance. In Hebrew it is Yeshua, ( ישועה ) which translates to “salvation” in English. So, on this very special day our salvation was born into the world.
These are all things that the early listeners to the story would have known, but we, in our hectic world have lost some of the significant parts of the story.
We are all blessed by Mary’s yes to the angel who told her that she was to have this child. Jesus came into the world, and he keeps coming into each life and heart of anyone who will accept Him.
May you and your loved ones enjoy the blessings of this wonderful Christmas season.
In St. Viator
Rev. Daniel R. Hall, CSV