Grace to you!
Tomorrow is Christmas Day. Excited? I am.
For me, to celebrate the birthday of Our Lord Jesus Christ is joy, unimaginable joy. I hope you have more time with family to share the joy of the birthday of the Lord with each other.
In this reflection, I will wrap up the discussion we started five days ago on the right disposition in preparation of the celebration of the birthday of the Lord.
I see the birthday of the Lord as one of the two greatest celebrations in my life as a child of God redeemed by the grace of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and reborn in his Church. For me, Christmas isn’t simply a social celebration. It is ultimately spiritual. So, I try to put these two aspects together in my preparations.
About the spiritual, I suppose it entails a lot of things as we have shared in previous reflections. It begins with having faith in Jesus whose birthday we celebrate. It extends to a life of service, being messengers of the good news; a life of gratitude, a life that validates others, and a heart that rejoices with others, and much more.
I will add to these also a heart that is forgiven, a heart reconciled with God because he or she believes Jesus was born to reconcile us with the Father. It was this disposition of realization of the mercy and forgiveness of God over unbelief that shaped the life of Zechariah, the father of John.
Permit me to suggest a few ways to have a clean heart to receive the Infant Jesus, the Lord, whose birthday we celebrate.
1. Reconcile with one another. Bear no grudges or unforgiveness with your neighbor as you celebrate Christmas. I know this is hard, especially in dealing with that person who, in our judgement, doesn’t deserve mercy. So, ask the grace of God to help you forgive.
2. Confess your sins if you feel guilt within your soul; or if you find your life does not reflect God’s ways. I find in our Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation, a great sacrament through which God forgives us our sins by the words of absolution from the mouth of his representatives in the Church, a powerful tool to be reconciled. If we aren’t in the state of grace, that is, if sin is in our heart, it would be a barrier to the wealth of divine graces for us during this season. We don’t need any barriers. Sin is a barrier.
I will add, please do not miss going to church. If you have family, go to church with them if possible. If you are celebrating the birthday of a public figure, aren’t you expected to be present at the public gathering where that public figure is honored? The Mass of the Nativity, that is, the Eucharistic celebration marking the birth of the Lord, is the proper platform of the celebration of Christmas. So, don’t miss it. Be part of the Eucharistic celebration.
Regarding the social preparations: Make your home a welcoming place for your family and guests. If you are visiting with others, be part of the service—doing the dishes, tidying, etc. Share in the joy of the Christmas gifts, for God wants us to balance spirituality with social life. Be generous with your gifts.
Enjoy a wonderful day of the Birth of the Lord tomorrow. I pray for safety of travelers this season.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[December 24: 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Lk 1:67-79; Fourth Sunday of Advent: 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Rm 16:25-27; Lk 1:26-38]
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations this Advent Season.