Saturday, January 5, 2013
Keeping Christ in Christmas
Whilst Christmas Day has come and gone...it feels like almost an eternity ago...we are still in the Christmas Season, which traditionally finishes with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (13 January this year). Since we are still in the Christmas Season, I thought I still have some time to post a blog about Christmas...
Together with Protestant Christians, we often decry the fact that Christmas has become nothing less the unashamed promotion of materialism and consumerism. While the world thinks that Christmas is about the accumulation of gifts, Christians try to remind the world that their need for Christ far outweighs their need for material goods. And so, every Christmas, Christians the world over seek to remind people that “Jesus is the reason for the Season”, and that we ought to “Keep Christ in Christmas”.
I recently posted a picture on Facebook (see above) which contained the phrase:
“The best way to keep Christ in Christmas is to keep Mass in Christmas”
I posted the picture because I initially thought the slogan was quite clever, and also thought-provoking. It challenges us to see that there are two sides to Christmas – yes, there is Christ. But there is also Mass (after all, the word “Christmas” is derived from the reference to “Christ’s Mass”).
So for us Catholics, Christmas is not just about remembering that “Jesus is the reason for the Season”; it is also about fulfilling our Holy Obligation to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass – which in itself reminds us that Calvary was the ultimate reason for Christmas.
Then in Mass earlier this week, I had another thought which I think is substantially more profound. Mass cannot be separated from Christmas because Mass and the Nativity are intricately connected.
Just as Mary received Our Lord with faith, humility, reverence, and obedience so too do we receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. Just as Mary became a living Tabernacle at the Annunciation, so too do we become living Tabernacles in Holy Communion because we carry the Lord Jesus within us.
But Holy Communion is not the ultimate point of going to Mass. The very word “Mass” comes from the Latin “Ita Missa Est” – “Go, you are sent”. It is true that the summit of the Mass is receiving Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, but we do so not solely for ourselves. We receive Our Lord so that we can be sent. To do what? To share Christ with others, even as He shares Himself with us in Holy Communion.
And that is where the Nativity comes into it. Mary received our Lord at the Annunciation; but she gave Christ to the world in the Nativity. In this way, the Mass really is the mystery of the Incarnation because we receive the Lord in the Eucharist, and then we go out into the world so that we can bring Him to others. In this way, Christ is born afresh in us every time that we are sent forth from Mass.
So the best way to keep Christ in Christmas really is to keep Mass in Christmas. Because God’s grace and Christ’s Presence given to us in the Blessed Sacrament is the surest way to share Christ with a world that so desperately needs Him.