I think, of all the Christmases of our lives, this one is a Christmas that we’ll all remember, that we’ll tell stories about for years to come. It’s a Christmas unlike any other. In so many ways we can’t gather with our families in the ways we normally do. As someone said to me this week, it’s hard to get excited about things getting cancelled for a snow-storm when we’ve been stuck in our homes for the better part of the year. I think that kind of sums up the feelings of so many folks I’ve talked to.
I’ve spoken to folks who recently had contact with someone who tested positive and so aren’t able to attend Christmas mass for the first time in their lives. More than any other year, I think we’re all aware of our own mortality. I think we’re acutely aware this year just how easily so many things we once thought were unchangeable can change. I think we’re also aware just how helpless we can feel at times amid an invisible virus sweeping through the area. It’s easy to see the darkness of the world.
Yet, today is Christmas! As we hear in our first reading, the people in darkness have seen a great light. Never before in my lifetime have those words hit me so powerfully. Light has entered into the world. Today a Savior is born to us who is Christ and Lord. He is Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, and Prince of Peace! That is the promise! That is our faith! We look at a world in need of a savior...and he’s here!
I’m reminded of the words of CS Lewis in his book “Mere Christianity”:
Enemy-occupied territory - that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going.
Christmas falls near the shortest, darkest day of the year, the winter solstice. From the moment when the world on the world seems the darkest, we, as a Christian people have real hope because in this enemy-occupied territory, the rightful king has landed in the most unexpected of places, as an infant in a manger, yet that little child, grown into a man, gave his life for us on the cross. He really is our world’s only real hope. As celebrate this season of Christmas, we pledge our lives to this new-born king, this savior, this Prince of Peace, that he really will bring light to the darkness of our world, that he will save us from our sins, that he will transform this world and lead us through it to our eternal home.
All of that begins today, with this feast that we are celebrating right now. Christmas is the day our savior has arrived on our shores. Today is born our savior.
Father Matthew Baum is the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.