Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Just What is Christmas?

Father John J. Lombardi

 "And the Word became Flesh and Dwelt
 among us" St Jn. 1:14

Following are meditations of the meaning of Christmas…

Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus Christ, means "House of Bread". Get it?! He chose to be born there to show He really would become the Bread of Everlasting life, especially in the Most Holy Eucharist. So, this Advent-Christmas choose to go to Mass more often and receive your King and Lord in Holy Communion. Daily I meet at the altar people who come to Mass, some with children, others elderly, others who are students, all busy about their lives but are making a conscious choice to make time for The Christ in their lives and especially in the crPche of their hearts for the Lord to lay His Head. As you visit a crPche in your church or see one in the Vatican or some famous church, what about your own heart?

Hope: If Easter is a time of victory, Christ's rising from the dead and conquering Sin, Hell and Death, then Christmas is a time of hope that God still loves us so much He became one of us! So, we may cultivate that virtue, hope. Keep on keepin' on, knowing that even though this world contains evil and darkness as well as good, God still believes in us so much that Christ came for us-Emmanuel-God is with us. St Alphonsus Liguori was exiled by his own religious order which he founded, but was still faithful to the Lord Jesus in the Mass, Eucharist and prayer because of His hope in Him, that, no matter what trials or tribulations, "nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus" (Rm. 8: ).

The Incarnation: This is another name for this great Feast of Christmas, means that God became man, fully God fully man, which is a mystery yes, but this is the chosen, ingenious Way He took to save us. He is a rescuer of us all! I think of Immacule Illibagiza, a Catholic lady who was trapped in violence during the Rwanda death raids for months in a small room, threatened man times with death and who yet persevered because she believed in Jesus. She was later released and spared murder because of her faith and Hope. She believed that Jesus came to rescue and protect her

Savior: His Holy Name is Jesus, which means "He wills to save us from our sins". In thoughts, words and deeds we hurt God and one another and yet Jesus, the God-Man showed us we do not have to sin, that He loves us and shows us that there is another Way of Truth and righteousness. Sin distorts our human nature and God given talents and potential. Sure Jesus was a good guy, poetic and preacher par excellence and nice and all that, but Christ is first and foremost Savior of the world! Let us then give Him our very lives. Let God be God and let Him save you! Pray like St Augustine, who said: "O Jesus You are the Divine Physician and I am the sick man."

Divine Fusion: "God became man that man might become God" is a saying of many saints and learned souls. Jesus Christ came to divinize us, to make us God-like. After escaping the pollution of sin we may "participate in the divine Nature" (II Pt. 1:4). As bible readers we believe we are not only saved from sin, but further, we may become like God, humbly so. Some saints became so holy and filled with God that they could read hearts, levitate, do miracles, speak in tongues and prophesy the future. The "Divine infusion" changes humans into God-likeness. This is something to hope for, to become more like God instead of sinning and hurting. What are you choosing in your life?

The Way Truth and Life: Christ showed us how to live in this sometimes crazy world. He served lepers, poor persons and the outcast. He illustrated by His very life how to go thru this world. Will you respond to Jesus coming to earth by your loving service to others? I know a father of 7 children who every week serves Mass on Monday mornings (ahhh!) and loves doing it! He makes time for Jesus and His friends, will you?

Continuity and Change: As great people like Einstein-who changed physics and Beethoven re-invented the symphony and sonata-, both changed their fields and also continued what was past, so did Jesus Christ. He carried on Jewish customs but also changed much: He Himself forgave sins, celebrated Mass-Eucharist and also

Shock ot the System: While the Lord continued much from the past he was no "nostalgiaist"-He revolutionized Life and Salvation. After all He was the Messiah-Savior Who became the pariah-of the Romans and many religion-istas. Christ at Christmas is the Child-King Who becomes the Fugitive Prince at Holy Week. How? He overcame barriers between peoples; He opened the Way of mystical experience and encounter with God to anyone. He rose from the dead. He rose people from the dead. He was a priest amongst the people and not an elitist. He displayed that mysticism is more important than religious-materialism and money making schemes. He showed excessive rules and regulations reap a religious rotting when God becomes absent and love is non-existent. He was righteous and holy and expected everyone else to be-not only in worship of God but also love of neighbor.

The Blessed Virgin Mary gave us Jesus Christ. By her "Fiat, her "Yes" to God's request of her to become the Mother of God ("Theotokos"=God-bearer). She chose a difficult way. By her example she can help you in your struggles and tribulations. Get your rosary and pray it and love the Great Mother of God who loves you! You may choose nostalgia, a saccharine paralysis, at this time of year, or discipleship, being dedicated to love in heart and deed in response to Jesus, to follow the Way of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by regular participation in the sacraments (Eucharist and Confession); in service, free costly actions for others, regular meditation upon the Bible and spiritual reading to feed your soul all year round. Don't forget prayer. Take ten minutes every day for your Lord and Savior to enter the chamber of your heart and adore Him-and be loved by Him!

As Christmas comes, and arrives, let us remember to pray… Out of the womb and into my heart…Come let us adore Him!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi