An Imperfect Christmas?

Here in Ohio we haven't seen the sun in weeks. This morning , the second day of Christmas, it decided to appear in all of its glorious light. In this blast of light that shone through the windows during Mass, one could barely tell that the candles on the altar were lit, and the lights on the Christmas trees were almost imperceptible. In some ways it reminded me of our Christmas experience this year.

The day before Christmas, quite a few of us came down with the flu. I was one of them. We ended up cancelling our gift opening on Christmas Eve night and having it on Christmas afternoon instead. We were not able to carry out our annual Christmas visit to the nursing homes and hospitals - we didn't want to share our germs with those who were already suffering and sick.

It was a "different" kind of Christmas. You may think I would say "terrible" or "unfortunate," but what is a perfect Christmas anyway?

I would dare say that the more "unfortunate"  and imperfect our Christmas is, the more like the first Christmas it really is. And as a result … the more CAUSE TO CELEBRATE!

I wasn't able to eat; the sight and smells of the food was nauseating. I couldn't make a Holy Hour or stand up very long without feeling like I was going to pass out. I couldn't kneel in adoration in front of the newborn Christ in the manger.  I couldn't tell you what music was played at Mass or what the homily was about. All I wanted to do was lay my head down and this I did. I laid it down next to Jesus in the manger and let Mary and Joseph take care of me.

Think of that first Christmas. All Mary and Joseph had was Jesus. They did not have family present, but were surrounded by strangers. They were terribly uncomfortable. They may have been nauseated at the smell of the animals and manure.

If your Christmas had no lights, no trees, no family, no fancy meal, don't be tempted to think that you missed out.  You are privileged to share in the sentiments of that first Christmas where all they had was HIM who is THE LIGHT, THE FOOD, THE TREE OF LIFE.

And if you DO have a beautifully lit tree, an amazing meal, and plenty of gifts and these do not make you think of Him, it is an unfortunate Christmas: a Christmas lacking in every good thing.

For those who have spent Christmas in a hospital sick or at the side of suffering loved ones, in a battlefield or far away from loved ones, you may be tempted to say, "This is not how it should be". But those who have discovered Christ and His love in those moments of suffering I would daresay have had the most significant of Christmases.

For Christ has come to enter into our loneliness, our sickness, our suffering, and our brokenness. He does not make His home in the heart that does not know her need for Him, who isn't crying out from the depths of her being, "I need you Jesus!"

If you have had an imperfect Christmas, it is not too late to run to Him and let Him make a home in you. This is only the very beginning of the Christmas season.  Bunch up the straw of your sorrows and disappointments and let Him rest His little head there. Then you can rest your head upon Mary's lap, and under the protecting gaze of St. Joseph,  let yourself be flooded by the light of His love.

As the SUN's radiance outshines everything else, so the love of the infant Jesus, the SON, makes everything else fade away to nothingness.

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