In a world that is on a nonstop, classical Orwellian spin cycle that is overlapping with the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, the time for some real reflective contemplation is simply swallowed up by an overdose of consumerism.
Are not such contemplatives for monks, not mothers, motormen or musicians?
Nothing could be more alien from the truth.
The many chores of Advent seemingly consume the laborers, who are, in a clear sense, victims of their own successes. But at what price? Gaining the fleeting adornments, adulation and affection of our temporal world?
As we feed the busyness beast, we fail to nourish the sanctity of our very souls. We may have a flawless Christmas tree, possess an immaculately decorated home, and purchased the perfect gifts, but at the expense of a cluttered and confused soul?
You can’t dance with the devil and keep possession of your soul.
We live in a transactional society where selfless sacrifice is counterintuitive and countercultural and where the meaning of Christmas is lost among the all-encompassing ocean of consumerism that so many are drowning in.
Yet, 20 centuries after the Incarnation of Jesus Christ the celebration endures as God chose to take on human form – giving even the most abject a glimmer of hope within the depths of the darkest and arguably the coldest time of the year.
While nativity scenes among our December landscape are still a fixture, albeit a shrinking one in our post-Christian age; we can easily dismiss or perhaps ignore how much they directly confront our secular and divided society.
Like the Christmas story itself, the entire Christian narrative is teeming with self-sacrifice.
To consider that a holy, and perfect God would choose to enter our blasphemous, fallen, and defiant world is amazing, but to do so as a vulnerable and helpless infant is simply astounding.
But as Isaiah informs us: God’s ways are certainly not our ways.
The Archangel Gabriel visits Mary, whom Luke’s Gospel reminds us that all generations will call her blessed, agrees through the power of the Holy Spirit to conceive a son that will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Blessed Virgin had to endure the gossip and shame that comes with being an unmarried, pregnant teenage girl. Joseph had to decide either to move on, or take on the responsibility of parenting a son who is not his own. Both gave of themselves without reservation and intercede for us to this very day.
In less than a month, the pro-life movement will recognize the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion rendering the “me-first” ethos into overdrive. As Breakpoint’s John Stonestreet recently highlighted, the contrast between our Blessed Mother’s “yes” to an unexpected guest, and the “no” of our culture and our judiciary could hardly be sharper, or more deadly.
Moreover, Stonestreet asks: “Which is more noble, the vociferous American woman demanding the right to preserve her body from the intrusion of a baby, or the young Jewish girl in the Christmas story who sacrifices her plans and her reputation in a gesture of openness to the gift of new life? What is more worthwhile: the life that seeks convenience, or the life that accepts the call to sacrifice? Sincere contemplation of the nativity scene yields an unambiguous answer.”
Sacred Scripture and even world history, both underscore that those among us who make the greatest difference are those willing to pay the highest price. And with that price always comes sacrifice.
Jesus is much more than one prophet in a long line of prophets, one more speaker of the divine truth, and one more reader of the divine word. Jesus is the Word made flesh. He is the Divine Truth in human form. Jesus humbled Himself by taking the yoke of a servant, who shouldered and suffered for humanity’s sinfulness by ultimately suffocating to death on the cross.
The crèche that soon enough will be put away always leads to the cross that terrified people in Greco-Roman times. The cross that was once state-sponsored terrorism, a form of capital punishment is now the victory symbol of God’s self-emptying love of salvation.
Dramatically, things can change.