Christmas as a state of being

Have you noticed that the singing or playing of carols before Advent hardly strikes a chord in our hearts? It’s almost like getting into a sweater on a hot summer’s day!

Hearing people say ‘It doesn’t feel like Christmas just yet’ makes one wonder what really gets in the way of enjoying a Christmassy feeling through the year. Yes, maybe we need a few props – the bright star, the colourful decorations, the rustic crib, the delicious home-made sweets, the joyful carols and the festive clothes… even the nippy weather – to get into the mood. But should our feeling, thinking, or being be governed by externals alone?

It’s time we realized that several agencies out there are vying for our time and attention: the merchants, who dangle their goodies before our eyes – pushing us into a ‘commercial’ Christmas; and now the environmentalists, too, wrangling about all that – pressing us into an ‘ecological’ Christmas. Besides, there are the age-old secularists, or say, those without any religious principles, for whom all is grist that comes to their mill…. They are all sources of great distraction for the young and old, the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated alike.

For our part, why not respond intently to our basic calling, which is to herald a ‘spiritual’ Christmas? By this we mean giving priority to the life of the spirit, rather than to material concerns; seeking to reconcile with God and to reach out to our neighbour; and giving to Christ the place that rightly belongs to Him in our hearts and minds. At Christmas we are called to truly light up the virtues of faith, hope and charity; it’s a special time to don God’s (and not Santa’s) thinking cap. And then, as we stop to contemplate the face of the Little Babe, Our Lord and Saviour, the worldly delights of a winter wonderland will vanish and overriding concerns about our Planet pale into insignificance.

If we have had fake Christmases in the past, let us put them behind us and move on; let us turn a new leaf, setting sights on a genuine Christmas and a radiant New Year. The tender spirit of December will not evaporate – and thus our world will be a better place – if Christmas isn’t limited to a day; if all mothers become like Mary and fathers like Joseph, and if we all model ourselves on Jesus of Nazareth….

And that’s probably when the singing or playing of carols will begin to strike a chord in our hearts right through the year!

(Editorial, The Stella Maris Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 2, Dec 2009)