Joyful Anticipation of the Messiah
The big celebration begins, a festival of light and love, of joy and laughter, of family and community and world. Light is mentioned almost twenty times in the course of today's liturgy. On one of the darkest days of the year, light explodes all around us. The sun is sneaking back, just as Jesus kind of sneaked into the world in the quiet of Bethlehem.
For us in the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas is a midwinter feast, a time when the days grow a little longer and light and warmth return slowly. For those who live in the Southern Hemisphere, however, it is the beginning of summer. School is over. It is a time for vacation (or as they would call it "holidays"), for rest and relaxation.
It marks not the shortest day of the year but the longest, the day of the most light and on the average the most warmth. Christmas fits in everywhere.
Fr. Greeley's Last Book:
Once upon a time there were two kids who were fed up with Christmas. They began an anti-Christmas campaign among their friends. Look, they said, everyone is tense and worn out, moms are tired from cooking, dads from putting up trees and decorations, kids from wrapping presents, neighbors from all the noise and bustle. We open the presents and they're not really what we wanted, though we thought we did. The house is littered with torn wrapping paper, expensive ornaments get knocked off the trees, the little kids go out of control, big kids sulk, mass is too long, the sermons are boring, the music is yucky. We eat too much . . .Who needs it all. So what should we do asked their friends. Strike! Said the two trouble-makers who were, if truth be told, Anarchists of a sort. Refuse to participate. Don't buy any Christmas presents, don't ask for any, refuse those that are given to you, don't decorate the tree, don't eat the pumpkin pie, don't drink the eggnog, don't say merry Christmas to anyone. A few of their friends thought they were crazy. The others thought it was a great idea.
what should we do? The strike leaders went to the priest and asked him what
they should do. Well, he said, if you want to welcome the Christ Child
without all the fuss and bother, come to church and pray. They thought that
was a great idea. How could parents and other grown ups object to their
praying on Christmas Day. Well, they prayed for a solid hour, which maybe
doubled all their prayer for the whole year. Then one of them rushed out of
church and flagged down the priest who was about to drive off to his
family's party. We prayed for an
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph
like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
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