Grace appeared! The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light and on those who dwell in the land of gloom, a Light has shone! And she brought forth her first-born Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger! The Word was the true Light coming into the world and apart from Him, nothing that had being, came to be!
These are the warm, wondrous, beautiful, and familiar proclamations of Christmas that are at the core of our hearts and souls during these Holy Days.
The notion of light, the image of Christ as the light, figures predominantly both at Christmas-time and at Easter-time. The mystery of the newborn Christ as wrapped in swaddling clothes, that is, a live baby as wrapped up as if for burial, pre-foretells the resurrection when Christ would set aside His swaddling clothes, His burial shroud, when He awoke from the sleep of death in His glorified body. The theme of light binds together the mystery of Christmas and the mystery of Easter in a beautiful way.
The image of light always points to the deeper issue of truth. Through His coming in the flesh, Christ defines our humanity. If God Himself takes on a human nature, that humanity becomes definitive for all. To be human is now defined as being like Christ.
Sacred truth of Christmas
That is the sacred truth of Christmas. That is why we are so convinced, ultimately, that human life is sacred from conception until natural death. That is why we refuse to accept death as a solution to social problems - we decry capital punishment and the violence of war. For us as His disciples, being human is all about being like Christ.
The institution of marriage is so sacred that Christ took flesh by entering into the married life of Mary, who always remained a virgin, and Joseph, her husband. Jesus was the very heart of the Holy Family.
Once again, the family unit is so sacred because it was deemed a worthy entry point into this world by the Eternal Son of God, that everything necessary must be done to defend marriage and the family so that we can reach our human pinnacle.
And so the whole truth about our humanness, about our yearning for God, the mysteries of life, death, the afterlife, the beauty of marriage, all of these truths were written on the human heart at the beginning of creation, obscured by the evil of original sin, and restored anew in the coming as man, life, death and resurrection of Christ, our Redeemer.
Sacredness and mystery of humanity
The liturgy of Advent speaks of our waiting for the coming of Christ as "watching in prayer, our hearts filled with wonder and praise." Let us accept the gift of being filled with wonder and praise at the sacredness and mystery of our humanity made in the image and likeness of God, male and female, recreated and redeemed in Christ. And let us approach every single, human person as the bearer of that dignity conferred by the Creator on our humanity and worthy of the death of the Son of God.
This solidarity and communion among us all will constitute the "Good will among all people" that is so needed for the manifestation of the Glory of God. "Glory to God in the Highest and peace to people of good will!"
May you and your loved ones share the abundant joy and peace of the Christmas season and may these gifts be sustained for you in abundance by the Lord throughout the New Year. You will very much be remembered in my Masses of Christmas time and, as always, I count on your good prayers as well.
Thank you for reading this. God love each one of you! Christ is born! Glorify him!
Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
Offices: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Road, Madison
Mailing address: P.O. Box 44985, Madison, WI 53744-4985
Phone: 608-821-3070 Fax: 608-821-3071 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org