Sorry I haven’t updated in so long. I’ve been busy with a new, full-time job that leaves me tired all the time (the schedule I have isn’t the greatest). I intend, after the beginning of the New Year, to update more often.
This time of year is either a blessing or a curse for people. For some, it’s even both. I fit into both categories. Christmas is hard on the personal front (family issues that have gone on for nearly three decades at this point) and a blessing in that it is the celebration of the first Advent of Christ as a small, helpless baby who would thirty-three years later save the world through his death and resurrection on the cross. Pretty powerful stuff. We don’t always remember that. We focus on the gifts and the TV specials and the parties and the good feelings. Sometimes these are focused on to the detriment of what Christmas and Advent really mean. Preparation for the coming of Christ first at his birth and later when he comes at the Second Coming.
As a Catholic, we focus on preparing for both advents with Advent. We remember not only Jesus’s birth and the dangerous circumstances surrounding it. (Herod did order and carry out the killing of numerous infants and those under the age of 2 in order to protect his earthly position. People who abort their babies are no better than Herod hence the Feast of the Holy Innocents celebrated on December 28 to remember not only those killed by Herod but also those killed by abortion.)
It wasn’t a feel-good story that Jesus came. He was born to a teenage mother (Mary) who was married to an older man (Joseph) who wanted to divorce her in order to prevent himself and her from shame. His foster-father was a poor carpenter. Mary and Joseph had to travel when Mary was about to give birth because of a government census. Mary had to give birth in a stable without any medical support. Then they had to flee from their homeland or risk being killed and moved to a foreign country where they didn’t know the language.
Yes, they were visited by shepherds who were nobodies at the bottom of the social economic ladder. And by astrologers from the East who didn’t know they were to find the King of the Universe in such poverty conditions. Yet they gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh that alluded to his future death.
Jesus lived in obscurity for thirty years before he began to preach his message of salvation from sin and repentance. And many of disciples still left him. He was then betrayed by someone he had personally chosen and abandoned by all his friends save one. He was crucified as a common criminal out of love for mankind. He died a criminal’s death while his own mother watched. Three days later he rose from the dead. He left the Holy Spirit to guide the new church he had founded on Peter and ascended into heaven. He promised to come again.
There are people who don’t want to hear this or want it watered down. They don’t want the truth. They want to hear only that which will make them feel good. Or they say that Jesus lied or that wasn’t what he meant because if they acknowledged the truth then they would have to change, to repent, to acknowledge that they are sinners in need of a saviour. Worse than that, they attack those that do acknowledge and accept this fact and accept Jesus. Or they attack those who also believe in Jesus but don’t believe exactly as they do.
I won’t preach peace on earth and good will towards men. Without God’s grace, it isn’t possible. And wasn’t possible until the King of the Universe came as a helpless baby born into poverty over 2000 years ago.
For some of us, Christmas is a time of depression, increased abuse, financial worries, etc. It’s not a happy time. It may be a time of year that people want to avoid. For some it’s a reminder of loss of a loved one or home or family or a job.
And yet, it can still be a time of hope. It isn’t easy and isn’t much but it can be there. For myself, I can cope with the celebration of Christ’s birth. I can’t cope very well with the family issues and past abuse and the focus on material goods and the need to keep or surpass the Joneses.
Till then: Blessed Christmas.