Merry Christmas! It’s a joyous time: Christmas is that time of year and day that we celebrate the coming of our Lord for the ultimate purpose of the Atonement. It’s also a time for family, because amongst everything else, the nativity story is also about a family. From a Catholic perspective, we might say it’s a story about the family.
From and through Mary, we are given an exemplar of femininity perfected in motherhood. Hence, from Mary, we learn what it is to be a woman, wife and mother. And from and through Joseph, we are given an exemplar of masculinity, one perfected in fatherhood. Thus, from Joseph, we learn what it is to be a man, husband and father. And of course, through Jesus, our Lord, we are later shown the perfect person and most high priest.
There’s more, of course. We can go deeper, looking for lessons in virtue. When I read the nativity stories, I am reminded about the importance of humility. We learn, for example, that life, our lives, are not just about us – we learn that we are called into the providence of God and to our respective vocations. That’s an important fact, because we can often be self-absorbed and live the life of me. We also learn that God can ask from us what we had not planned or wanted, though through humility, we aim to respond gracefully: “May it happen to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). Or as Jesus himself once said, “yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42).
In addition, we also learn a thing or two against pride, power and materialism. Jesus could have come with heavenly trumpets thundering, with his legions of angels shaking the ground beneath us. He could have demanded obedience and worship from Ceasar and Herod, and he could have lived the life at he most certainly deserved. Yet, he did not. He chose poverty, powerlessness and a life of persecution. He chose a path toward crucifixion for us.
From this, we learn that pride is far worse than poverty; and that worldly power and politics, though useful and attractive, is not the proper object of our devotion, focus and trust. We learn that our salvation and happiness is elsewhere, and that our truer good and a more genuine power rests in service.
God Bless and Merry Christmas!
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