It is easy to write a column resolving to change our Christmas ways, but a bit more difficult mapping out what such a Christmas would look like. We still have very small children at home—children who are dreaming about Santa Claus and that room full of toys on Christmas morning. I can see them in my mind’s eye tumbling down the stairs on Christmas morning, half sleepy, half exhilarated, and quivering with excitement. When those new footie pajamas slide into the living room, what will they find there? To tell the truth, at this point, I am not exactly sure.
This is the time of year I usually start Christmas planning with lists—gifts and toys, errands and jobs, food and clothing. Endless purchases and tasks that seem to grow by the day until December 25th. Today, I am setting those thoughts and cares aside. A Baby is coming, and we all want to meet Him. Our preparations must be about making room for Him and showing Him he is welcomed and loved. My only question this year will be, “How do we prepare for the Baby?”
In the Traditional Latin Mass, after the “Ite, missa est” (“Go, the Mass is ended”) and final blessing, the Last Gospel is read. The first few times we attended a traditional Mass, it was almost jarring to stand for a Gospel reading just when we expected the priest to process out. Every Sunday, it kept taking me by surprise. It is always the same opening passage from the Book of John, a mirror of the story of Creation, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then comes a line that always cuts me to the heart:
“He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.”
I wonder how many Christmases we have not really quite received Him. Like that busy, overworked innkeeper, we did not abandon Him all together, but we set him aside in the stable, when He should have been the center of everything. St. Luke tells the story so familiar: “And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” That inn was the original crowded shopping mall, so full of important people, distracted people, disgruntled people, that the Son of Man had no place to rest His head.
In “Life of Christ,” Venerable Fulton Sheen writes, “When finally the scrolls of history are completed down to the last words in time, the saddest line of all will be ‘There was no room in the inn.’”
This year, Christmas of 2015, with God’s help, may it be different. May our homes be ablaze with light and love worthy to welcome “the true Light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.”