Christmas, the gift that keeps giving
23rd December 2013 · 0 Comments
By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Sometimes surreptitious and sneaky, at times in-your-face and boisterous, love is here, there and everywhere. It is known to hit you with great force and sweep you off your feet. But it is also known to approach you silently and capture you while you suspect nothing.
So does Christmas, the birthday of God’s Son as man, since God is love, and all who love abide in God and God in them, as 1 John 4:16 advises us. I dare say that most people are not even aware that they are being ensnared by the love that is Christmas, for Christmas love does not broadside most people as love is sometimes seen to do. It is almost a sneaky love.
This is obviously the case, because we celebrate birthdays by giving presents to the birthday girl or boy. Our culture and custom of celebrating Christmas is upside down, for the birthday Boy does not get the presents. We do. And, save for the exception of people born on Christmas Day, we should not be receiving but only giving presents to the birthday Boy.
But what is so sneaky about the love found in this culture and custom of giving gifts at Christmas time? Most people conveniently overlook the fact that they should be giving to the birthday Boy himself, not to their dear family and friends. So, they also tend to overlook the fact that they are spreading the real Christmas message of love by giving gifts to others.
So who has the last laugh? Venal shopping insanity aside, we can say unconditionally that the Christmas birthday Boy is having the last laugh and has been laughing since his epic years on earth. “The Man Of Sorrows,” “God’s Suffering Servant,” poignantly depicted by Isaiah 53, is also the Center of our joy, the Image of the eternal Father, the Prince of Peace.
So incredibly compelling is the Christmas birthday Boy’s message that one day it would be recorded through John 15:9,12, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love… This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”
The last laugh is not had by “Ho, ho, ho!” merry shoppers who cannot get enough of the madness that is Black Friday, anticipated Black Friday, and finally the Black Friday trailer, Cyber Monday, that invites you to jump online and save big bucks on everything!
Not far behind the bona fide fanatics that camp out day and night for several days to get a jump on all other shoppers, the barely-sane, herd-driven shoppers stampede before the fairly-sane regular shoppers who fancy themselves driven by the spirit of Christmas. In spite of themselves, despite their consumer-driven pursuit, all of them salute the birthday Boy.
Christmas gifts range from the crudest homemade to the most lavish, expensive rocks imaginable, platinum or gold trinkets, eye-popping motor vehicles wrapped in a huge red ribbon with a bow, unreal watches, computers with a ll the bells and whistles, mega-screen TVs with an entertainment center, smart phones of every description with more computer power than our early spacecraft, electronic gadgets, fancy clothes and paraphernalia galore.
Looking at it another way, without the obscure, little birthday Boy, once hidden away in the relative comfort of the straw in a cattle cave, none of this merchant madness would be going on, the world would not even know the excitement it would be missing at Christmas time, and the global atmosphere would be dull and pedestrian but for New Year fireworks.
While tens of millions are willing to acknowledge and celebrate the Reason for the season, untold millions more are willy-nilly, grudging fellow travelers who swell the outsize numbers of participants in scores of parades around the country and the world, scenes with billions of multicolor lights embraced by most, countless movies and musical extravaganzas.
Unwittingly, often against their intent and will, those grudging fellow travelers nonetheless keep alive, promote and propagate the birthday Boy’s story with his message that still eludes the grasp of a baffling number of individuals as well as that of the United Nations who give perennial mere lip service to the feckless pursuit of peace around the world.
Now what about you personally? Do you keep in touch frequently with your relatives and other dear ones? Do you engage in family activities that enable you to bond more deeply and more firmly as you continue your pilgrimage here on earth? Do you reject the venal, commercial Christmas to find the birthday Boy’s peace in yourself and your own family?
Perhaps Nat King Cole said it best of all when he sang, “I want your arms around me for Christmas. I need no presents under the tree. You’re all I want, my darling; and that will be the world to me.” A warm person is all that most folks really want. Just ask anyone lonely, separated, abandoned, forlorn, without family or companion, or in a loveless relationship.
When the high-priced commercial gifts lavishly offered on Christmas Day have lost their luster and glamour, relegated to the ho-hum heap of baubles and trinkets that are no longer lovingly appreciated, the birthday Boy’s message of anxiety-proof peace that the world cannot give lives on the loving hearts of all who embrace him and his enduring love.
This article originally published in the December 23, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.