December 25, 2022

In a country church there was a whitewashed wall – maybe you heard this story, but like the Christmas story it’s a good one.
As people came in, they bowed to the wall or blessed themselves passing it.
People wondered why, as there was no picture on the wall.

At a time of repainting the church, the whitewash and a few layers of paint were removed and a fresco of the nativity was found.
The ritual had remained when the reason was forgotten.

There are many customs and visuals of Christmas, houses are lit up with stars, reindeer, and baubles – everything to celebrate that the divine mixed with the human in an intense way, the family of heaven and earth joined, when light and hope shone on the world. Some reminders are more direct than others. Others may be a bit like the fresco – still there and yet we wonder why. Let’s stop saying put Christ back into Christmas, say rather find Christ in all of Christmas.

In every face you see this day, think of the face of God. We often pray that the face of God may shine on us, when we are brought face to face with God we will be face to face with immense and enduring love. We long for this now and forever.

People long for justice, for peace. People long for just enough in life like street children of Calcutta and children all over the world, and we long for reconciliation. Christmas is also a reminder of them. Not alone of God’s immense love for all, but for the immense and enduring torture as God suffers still today in us all. The cross is in the crib, reminding us of the future of this child.

Also – enjoy all the reminders of Christmas. Let everything secular about Christmas remind us of its holy meaning. Every light you see, every red nosed reindeer, every cracker and bit of pudding, every bit of love under a mistletoe, in them all see, and be aware of Christ in everything for these next few days; and be glad of the face of Christ made human for us this night.

be glad of the face of Christ made human for us this night

Donal Neary S.J.