Christmas is a time filled with many exciting things. Often there are gifts and gatherings, food and good times. But more than anything else, Christmas must be seen as a time for us to step back and take in the deep and rich meaning of this sacred event.
In the malls and on the city streets, the decorations are coming down, too. The After-Christmas sales are booming and the Return lines wind round and round the stores as folks come to exchange their unwanted Christmas presents.
For many, the Christmas season ends on December 26.
In truth, that is far from the end. We have the following days.
- December 26 – St. Stephen (the first martyr)
- December 27 – The Holy Family
- December 28 – Holy Innocents (children murdered by Herod’s soldiers in the effort to destroy the Christ Child)
- January 1 – Holy Mary, Mother of God
- January 3 – The Epiphany of the Lord (visit of the Magi)
- January 10 – The Baptism of the Lord
We must see, first, that God entered our human condition and, in doing so, is able to identify with all that we experience in life. We make the unfortunate mistake that Christmas needs the day after. That is not true.
The second day following Christmas Day we recall the life of thievery first matter. St Stephen. He gave his life to proclaim the truth. What better gift? God does not pick favorites from among those who are seen as important in the eyes of the world. No, He sees the great value and dignity of each and every person and desires all of us, rich or poor, powerful or weak.
The third day of the Octave of Christmas, is dedicated to St. John. St. John is particularly important to honor during Christmas because of the fact that so much of what we know about our Divine Lord comes from him. Not only did he write one of the four Gospels, he also wrote various letters that are preserved.
The very first Sunday after Christmas we celebrate the Holy Family. This is a great opportunity to celebrate your family. It may be the family you are biologically linked to or it is the family that you choose. Either way bring the joy. In honoring all families, we honor the family of God, the Church. But most especially, we focus in on the hidden, day-to-day life of the Holy Family of Nazareth.The family home of Jesus, Mary and Joseph would have been, in numerous ways, just like any other home. They would have related together, talked, had fun, disagreed, worked, eaten, dealt with problems, and encountered everything else that makes up daily family life.
On the December 28th we reflect on the lives loss preceding Jesus’s birth.
When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Matthew 2:16
On December 29 we are given the witness of the prophet Simeon.
“Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you prepared in the sight of every people, a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32
This holy man was promised by God by a personal revelation that he would actually see, with his own eyes, the Savior of the World. Throughout his life he would have anticipated this moment. He would have longed for it and hoped for it. And then, one day the moment came. Simeon would have woken up that day going about his normal routine like any other day. However, the moment that Mary and Joseph brought their newborn Child into the temple, Simeon knew, in his heart, that this Child was the promised Savior. Simeon realized that his life was now complete. He was ready to die because he had now been privileged to actually see the Christ. He held Him in his arms and gave glory to the Father for this moment.
On December 30 we turn our eyes to a wise woman.
There was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38
She, like Simeon, spent her days in the temple worshipping God day and night. She anticipated the coming Messiah and, by a personal and special revelation from God, recognized His presence as He was presented by Mary and JosephThere is a great lesson for each one of us in her encounter with Jesus. When You encounter our Lord in your life of faith and prayer, do you then eagerly desire to share your faith with others? Perhaps it is by your words, but perhaps it’s, more often, by your witness.
On December 31 is the end of the physical year for us but it is the realization day Jesus came flesh and bone.The mystery of the “Word.” It’s a language that is veiled and yet revealing at the same time. It presents Jesus to us as the “Word.” He is the Word who takes on flesh and is eternal, from “the beginning with God.” The passage goes on to say that the Word was God and that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The term “Word,” given to Jesus in this passage, is a translation of the Greek word “Logos.”. Logos means “plan,” “reason,” “logic.”His perfect plan of salvation and this wisdom spoken is a Person.
January 1 celebrates the mother of God Mary. What better person to celebrate but the first witness to Christ. According to the to the Church, the Christmas season officially ends with the Baptism of the Lord. That gives us 17 days to celebrate Christmas.
So once again, Merry Christmas!