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ST OSWALD'S PARISH
WISHES YOU ALL
A BLESSED CHRISTMAS & A PEACEFUL NEW YEAR
THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Luke 1: 39 - 45 The Spirit of Christmas
In a few days we celebrate the birthday of Christ. Christ comes most readily to those who realise their need of him.
Christmas makes it possible for us to enter into an intimate relationship with God. Christmas also calls us to open our hearts to one another. And in opening our hearts to one another, we are opening ourselves to receive the ‘great joy’ announced to the shepherds by the angels.
In his book, Christmas, the writer, John B Keane, talks about the ‘urging’ of Christmas. He tells about a man who in normal circumstances wouldn’t give you the crumbs from his table, but who, when imbued with the spirit of Christmas, phone his estranged daughter in England and begged her to come home for Christmas. The daughter accepted the on both sides, all was forgiven. John B says that he wasn’t half as mean afterwards and concludes: ‘So, my friends, take Christmas by the horns – it can work wonders.’
He goes on to say that we shouldn’t be ashamed to be weepy or sentimental about Christmas, because we might not get the chance during the year ahead to show our humanity to the world. That, after all, is what Christmas is for – taking stock of our humanity and dispensing it where it is most needed.
So, if we feel the impulse to be forgiving and charitable and loving, we shouldn’t think about it twice or we’ll miss the boat. ‘The milk of human kindness comes from that great repository of compassion and hope, namely, the human heart.’
The spirit of Christmas cannot be killed. It has survived Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and many other tyrants. It has survived human greed and human jealousy, and every human failing one cares to mention. Nothing lasts like Christmas. Not all the inhumanity, nor all the greed, nor all the violence will reduce its message by a whit. It’s here to stay and there’s nothing evil men can do about it – and that’s one great consolation.
Of course, there are things that can damage Christmas. Chief among these is alcohol. It can lead to death on the roads and stupid rows. To take one’s drink at the end rather than at the start of one’s journey, and to take it in moderation, may be one’s best Christmas gift to one’s fellow human beings.
Christmas is a time of opportunity. It creates a climate which encourages us to reveal our better natures. Just as the spring assures the growth of crops, so Christmas assures the growth of love.
It is not possible for us, because of our fallen nature, to be charitable and compassionate all the year round. Let us, therefore, make the most of Christmas. It is not true that Charles Dickens invented Christmas as we know it. Christmas was born out of love and carries on out of love. It springs from God’s gratuitous love for us.
How bleak the world would be if there was no Christmas. There is nothing else with the power to move the human heart to its utmost capability. We mustn’t take it for granted. If we haven’t done anything about it yet, then for pity’s sake let us do it now or we’ll be guilty of the awful crime of undermining Christmas.
Christmas is a feast of the heart. It reveals to us what the heart of God is like. It was God who started it all when he gave us the gift of his Son. At the same time, it revealed to us what the human heart is capable of. Christmas causes us to open our hearts. And the extent to which we open our hearts to God and to one another, will be the extent to which we experience the ‘great joy’ the angels announced to the shepherds, because joy is the fruit of love.
Father, fill our hearts with love through the coming of your Son.
Give us the grace to overcome our fears and anxieties, and keep us joyful in your service.
We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.
(Taken from New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies – Year C – by Flor McCarthy SDB)