What was Christ’s birth really all about? Did Christmas have any real meaning in our lives? The Christmas celebrations are pretty much over, at least in secular society. The decorations are still up, but there are still bits of gift wrap to pick up, leftovers from dinner to store, and the house may need to be straightened up a bit after our guests have left.
The birth of baby Jesus was about a lot more than the awesome Christmas mass we went to, the nice dinner with our family and friends, and getting the Christmas presents we were really wishing for. The decorations are still beautiful, and even though some people are returning to work today, the atmosphere is still cheerful and people are in a good mood. There are droves of people today who are returning their Christmas gifts to the stores and exchanging them for something else they like better. Others are looking for the left over Christmas “bargains” which make them excited about their good deals on the way home.
Many people are fortunate to have a big happy family, and little children to watch playing with their toys today. Their home is cozy and warm and the future looks bright. But, all that can change in an instant, or our life’s circumstances can sometimes change over a longer period of time. There are many families today that have less than happy memories of this Christmas though.
It is easy to have faith when our lives are warm with the cocoon of love from our family and friends, and our love for them. But, the real test of faith, and the real meaning of Christmas is when these circumstances, and these people are absent in our lives.
Many people in the world feel very alone today and the suicide rate is the highest during the next two weeks, than it will be during the entire year ahead of us. Memories of happier Christmases in the past haunt many people during the Christmas season, especially if many of their family members are no longer with them. There are also a lot of people who feel very alone today, after the death of a spouse, a divorce, the absence of their small children, or the absence of grown children who moved away.
Perhaps your boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with you and there is a big empty place in your life. Maybe you are living in a difficult marriage, struggling with an addiction, or have rebellious or wayward children who seem to have rejected the faith and the gospel values, that you tried your best to teach them. Maybe family members argued badly at Christmas dinner, or worse yet, refused to even come if someone else was there that they didn’t get along with.
Sometimes, people are truly alone, with no one at all who seems to care about them like the homeless people or teenagers that have run away from abusive homes. The unemployed, and those struggling with mountains of debt or medical conditions may see only a bleak future, with no possibility of happiness.
There were many solitary people who gravitated to adoration chapels on Christmas Day, or to the one restaurant in town that was still open to serve a hot meal and they ate their meal alone. Some of the elderly living in nursing homes, devoted their entire lives to taking care of their children and grandchildren, and may now feel like maybe their lives didn’t even matter. No one came to visit them for Christmas.
A lot of folks escape to the movie theater on Christmas evening, just to take their mind off of their imperfect family situations and their imperfect lives. Many feel like a failure in life and will do anything to distract them or help them forget about their problems for a while. There are women, both young and old that may remember a child that is missing in their lives because of an abortion and the guilt is eating them up inside.
Many other people made some really serious mistakes and spent Christmas in jail, or in prison, and feel abandoned by their family and friends. They have no hope that they can ever be forgiven, or forgive themselves for the very bad mistakes, the serious sins that they committed.
What was Christmas really all about? Does the birth of baby Jesus have anything to do with real life? Especially for those with less than perfect lives?
Every single one of us are imperfect people. We are from imperfect families and we have lived imperfect lives.
The birth of baby Jesus occurred during a dark night, in the most imperfect of circumstances too. His birth has meaning for us because of hope. God the Father sent his only son into the world to give us hope for the future. Our lives will not always be as they are right now. We will never live perfect lives as long as we are alive on earth, but Christ gives us hope that our lives can get better in the future, if we place our trust in him alone. Our lives can not get better without Jesus, at the center of our lives. If he becomes second place in our lives, then we allow something or someone else to become our God. Our strength can never be centered in someone or something else, other than Jesus, for he alone can help us withstand whatever pain or suffering that life may bring us.
The second reason God sent his son into the world, though not the least important reason, was for forgiveness. God forgives us of our sins, faults and imperfections because He really does love us and want us to be happy. He sent His son Jesus into the world to pay the price for something we could not achieve on our own. Forgiveness and healing is possible now, because of the birth of baby Jesus.
This Christmas, maybe we could remember that God forgives us for being less than perfect people, with less than perfect lives, who live in less than perfect circumstances and families. He still loves us in spite of our faults. Let’s accept His love and His forgiveness, and forgive ourselves too. Maybe then we can forgive others, and give the circumstances that are causing us the most pain and suffering to the Lord.
Christ’s birth was about forgiveness, and hope.