What if Christmas got cancelled? After all, Australian law is increasingly restricting our freedom of speech, movement and religion. As the Archbishop pointed out, We’ve witnessed moves to make the celebration of the sacrament of confession illegal, to defund church schools, to charge an Archbishop with discrimination for teaching about marriage, and to deny faith based institutions the right to choose what kind of community they will be. So the cancelling of Christmas – at least the public expression of its Christian sense – is quite plausible.
It’s important because the answer to this question is the same as that to the different question Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, the Angels and the Wise Men today: who is this child? What will he do for us? How will he make a difference?
Even before looking at our readings, our crib today answers this question. Look at this crib. As important as they are, the Blessed Virgin and St Joseph are not looking at each other: they have their eyes, their entire bodies focussed on the Christchild. And not only them: the entire world of the crib is totally built and oriented around the Baby Jesus. And there is good reason for that: because the whole world is built around the infant Jesus. That child there – is God. That child, then, is the central axis around which all space and time revolves. He is it’s goal, it’s only mediator of meaning – because he is its very origin. Beyond him, there is nothing and no meaning to anything.
But Father there is meaning to my life outside of God. Really? Like what? Our family will move and die. Our health will fail. Our money will be spent. All we have done – who will remember in a hundred years? Even if they did, it would mean nothing – because outside of God, people are just chemical compounds. Outside of God, we are not even persons. Being a person becomes simply an idea built by the valueless connection of synapses in the brain. Acts of love, goodness, truth and beauty too are impossible: for without persons, there are none of these things.
Christmas changes all this – and so changes everything. In Christ’s birth on Christmas Day God announces to the cosmos three things:- that he exists; that, by having himself conceived without the help of a man that he can create anything out of nothing – and so is the master of all creation; and that he loves us – even dramatically intervening in history to save us from the consequences of our own evil.
So this is what God does and says to us today. Now the important question. What is our response? To do and change nothing is to miss out. What can we do?
- Go to mass every Sunday. If you don’t go to mass – what are you doing with your life? What is the point? At Sunday mass, God gives himself to us – he speaks to us, gives us perfect love, eternal life – and a big community of love.
- Go to confession once a month. If it’s been more than a year since your last confession, that is not normal. Don’t be afraid! Confession is to encounter the love and healing and freedom of God for you personally.
- Pray every day: for you are not alone – God is serving and loving you always.