Christmas is first and foremost about celebrating the birth of Jesus. It also includes the giving and receiving of gifts. As a child – or an adult – have you ever tried to sneak a peek at a gift that had your name on it? We’ll all share candidly about this on Tuesday.
Mother Angelica on Christmas!:
I wonder if we understand the message of Christmas. For many, it is a time of giving and receiving, bargain hunting and frustration over what to buy for Aunt Sara, who has never been satisfied you your gift, or Uncle Peter, who grumbles over every pair of socks you have ever given him.
The children want gifts and toys you can’t afford and your husband keeps telling you things will be better next year- but he has been saying that for the last ten years! Then there is that year-in, year-out argument about which in-laws’ house you will visit to celebrate the holidays this year!
Yes, it is possible for Christmas to come and go while you hardly have time to listen to a carol. If fact, you have probably heard them for a whole month but never got the message. What is the message of Christmas?
I used to ask myself that very question when I was young. As a child of a single parent family, Christmas was bleak, to say the least. My mother could never afford Christmas trees or gifts. We went to Grandma’s for dinner and then went back to a cold apartment where my mother broke down in tears. The great feast of warmth, joy and song was put in shadow by the reality of a lonely life. A life of poverty and rejection, sadness and frustration. The saddest thing of all was that there was no hope that next Christmas would be any different.
Then, through a series of events that manifested God’s personal love for me, I became a nun in a Franciscan Contemplative Order. It was only then that the real message of Christmas was clear. As I look back, the message had always been there but heartache had blurred the vision. In the monastery the emphasis is on an Infant who came into the world to experience the very heartache and poverty that had haunted me my whole life. I was thrust into heartache and poverty because of my father’s rejection; Jesus chose it because of His Father’s love for mankind. He wanted to give me a concrete, physical experience of that Love. The Father cared enough to send His Son to share my problems and frustrations. The Divine Infant was the message sent to me, so I could face the suffering and trials of daily life. There would no longer be a desolate loneliness, but an aloneness with the One I loved and who loves me. Different sufferings and heartaches continue to come my way, but Jesus and I accept them together. Now there is peace in the midst of turmoil, hope when all seems lost, and faith in the darkness. Knowing He lives in our midst gives me courage.
This was my experience. Your experience may be vastly different, but the important thing is that you do not allow the festivities of the season to blur your vision. You need not join a monastery to hear the message of Christmas- the message is already in your heart, for that is where Love lives.
Mother Mary Angelica