It is a truth deeply felt but rarely confessed that goodness is a target for evil, that evil, being nothingness, twists the good, the true, and the beautiful, twists the great gift of the Holy Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Belief in the Incarnation, the birth of Christ, has been nearly eclipsed over the centuries by belief in the outer trappings of Christmas. How did this happen? How did we forget the holiness of the holiday?
A devil whispered in the believer’s ear, you can have Christmas, the pleasures and parties, and not weigh yourself down by belief. Keep up the doings and goings and shoppings. Foster your desires, not others. Become god. You don’t need faith. Santa Claus, a twisted version of Bishop Nicolaus of Myrna, replaced God. Santa Claus gives gifts, material gifts.
Yes, the believer thinks, keep the manger wrapped, keep the story wrapped, keep the shepherds and the magi wrapped, under wraps. We can feel Christmas without the demands of belief. We will admire the wrappings of the good, the beautiful, and the true without having to face the good, the beautiful, and the true. We need not actually open the real Gift of Christmas – the Incarnation. We can admire and enjoy the wrappings and the trappings without confrontation.
And so parties and pleasures usurped, upstaged, holy liturgies. Greed usurped love. Pride usurped humility. Pleasure usurped joy. Each corruption hinted at what it had once been – the good, the true, and the beautiful. Each corrupted virtue, becoming a vice, eclipsed God’s great act of Love, that majestic intervention in human history to walk among us. The vivid reality of Christmas – Christ’s Mass – Christ’s coming in the flesh, incarnate, the ultimate Eucharistic sacrifice – is replaced with pale echoes, corrupted creatures of darkness.
And in this past year of the pandemic, when holy liturgy, vital and virtual, and the many activities of Christmas, are denied by the State, we become forced to focus on what is left of the holiday. What is left if we cannot hustle and bustle. What remains?
Christmas. True Christmas remains. The manger remains: the Son of God, born to us in a stable, on a bed of straw, under a brilliant star. Angels, shepherds, and magi find their way to Bethlehem. You and I find our way to Bethlehem.
This humble glory is the heart of Christmas, deeply known, but often forgotten. This glory story is witnessed and told through the centuries. It is a simple, breathtaking story that changes us forever.
If we believe.
If we do not believe, if we desire sentiment and not reality, if we settle for pale, pasty imitations over the real thing, if we choose twisted truth over honest truth, corrupted good over genuine good, then we will not know joy and gladness. We will not know love and laughter. We will become pale and pasty, imitations of what we were truly meant to be.
If we believe, we are given all we need and will ever desire. For under the wrappings, behind the decorations, lies the Son of God, the Savior of all mankind, the King of Kings. Deep within the greeting cards, the festive wreathes, and the twinkling trees, is an invitation to each of us.
We are invited into the heart of God, through His Son, Jesus. We are invited to share his divinity by partaking in his Love.
We are invited to celebrate this Jesus, the Savior and Lord of all. For this alone is the true reason for this season of joy. This alone is the good reason for the wrappings and the trappings of Christmas. This alone is the beautiful reason we walk the earth, creatures of His, designed to love as He loves. This alone is truly Christmas.
And so today on this tenth day of Christmas, we follow the star to the stable in Bethlehem. For on the Feast of Epiphany, January 6, we will experience a true, beautiful, and good epiphany – the burning light of Christ offered to us.
It is a new year begun with new life, the new life of Our Lord as he comes home to our hearts and we become changed forever – we become the true, the good, and the beautiful.