Two of the recurring themes for "the holidays" each December are joy and peace. But beset by so much frantic marketing, and with so many seasonal distractions and pressures, many Americans can't remember why they should feel happy. Warm feelings need a better reason than the winter solstice.
For the believer who stops and prays, nothing can obscure the real meaning of Christmas. Nothing can diminish the clean, bright beauty of Christmas Mass, or the glory of the carols we hold dear. Christmas is the birthday of life. This day is the beginning of hope. Jesus Christ is Lord - the only name under heaven by which anyone can be saved (Acts 4:12); there is no other - and his birth is our rebirth.
The joy in Christmas is the fact that God's love becomes flesh. God enters a sinful world in order to redeem it. The peace in Christmas is the reconciliation God begins in Bethlehem between himself and humanity. The stable leads to the cross. The cross leads to a tomb. And the tomb leads to resurrection and life. Easter begins in Christmas, and that's the reason we sing. This is a good time of year to remember that what we celebrate as Christians is much more than a pious story about a baby, or a parable about new life. Christmas is real. Christmas is a revolution. Christmas begins an uprising against the world, against sin, against death, against despair, against loneliness, led by the loving God who created us.
In Genesis, God said, "Let there be light," and creation began. This Christmas, and every Christmas, God speaks again -- through his Son, his Word made flesh - saying "Let there be a light," and in the Christmas sky, rises a light unto the gentiles that renews the world.
The source of our joy is the hope Christmas Day kindles in our hearts. And the reason for our hope is the coming of a Savior in the birth of Jesus Christ.
May his coming fill each of us with happiness - today, every day of the Christmas season and throughout the coming year.