The lasting spirit of Christmas Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010 -- 1:00 AM

During World War II near London, on Christmas morning, some lonely American soldiers looked for a Mass to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

As they searched, they discovered an old gray stone building. Carved over the door were the words, “Queen Anne’s Orphanage.” They knocked and a matron came to the door. She explained that the children were orphans whose parents had been killed in bombing raids.

Sharing the Christmas spirit

The soldiers went inside as the children tumbled happily out of bed and hurried into the gray guest room. There were no Christmas trees, crib, or presents.

The soldiers wished the children “Merry Christmas” and gave them whatever gifts they found in their pockets. These included a stick of chewing gum, a lifesaver, a nickel, a dime, a pencil, a pocketknife, and a yo-yo.

One soldier noticed a little boy, alone in the corner. He looked like his nephew. So he asked him, “Big guy, what do you want for Christmas?” The boy replied, “Could you please hold me?”

With tears flooding his face, the compassionate soldier picked up the boy and held him close to his heart. They gave each other “Christmas.”

Christ unites himself with man

On Christmas, God reached down and embraced the human race with the gift of Jesus. In John 3:16, it says, “Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die, but may have eternal life” The birth of Christ is the center of human history. This is why we date history B. C. and A. D.

God created us in the Divine image. We image God best when we love because God is love. Selfishness, hatred, murder, resentment, and other sins weaken our ability to love.

God gave us Jesus to redeem us from sin and show us how to love. Christ died for our sins, rose, and sent the Holy Spirit to enable us to call him “Lord.” God became like us so we could become like him and help to bring about the kingdom. To do this, we must receive God in the crib of our heart.

Celebrate the Christmas season

We must remember that the Christmas season lasts beyond Christmas. Twice on December 26, I tried to buy recordings of Christmas songs that included “We Three Kings.” The store clerks told me the tapes were sent back because Christmas was over.

However, according to the Ordo of the Catholic Church, this year the Christmas season extends from Evening Prayer I of Christmas through the Baptism of the Lord on January 9, 2011. Some years the Christmas season lasts longer.

During the Christmas season, we celebrate feasts that remind us that Christ was born into a family. These feasts include the Holy Family, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, and Epiphany.

We can fruitfully celebrate the Christmas season by reading the Bible or other spiritual reading in prayerful silence. We can pass on Christ’s Christmas love by caroling, volunteer work, or giving to the needy. We can remember that there are lonely persons whom we can call, write, or visit. These actions show that our faith is not just a warm glow at Christmas, but a way of following Jesus.

Jesus is the Bread of Life

At Christmas as we receive Communion, we can recall that Mary placed the infant Jesus in a manger, a feedbox for animals. She reminds us that Jesus is the Bread of Life. He wants to come into the home of our heart and offer us eternal life.

We receive Communion to unite our hearts with Jesus and to strengthen us to be Christ to others.

May the spirit of Christmas help us to brighten hearts every day, everywhere.

Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus of the Diocese of Madison.