Why We Celebrate

The Christmas Season is a time of joy — a time to remember and thank Jesus for His Incarnation and the great love He has for us. We share that joy with the members of our parishes, with the entire Church, with our families, and with our friends.

For us, Christmas means the birth of Jesus who is our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer, our God. We celebrate His Incarnation. We celebrate to thank Him for the gift of His great love, and His Presence with us. We also celebrate in anticipation of His Second Coming.

Many people throughout the world celebrate Christmas as a holiday, but some do not understand why. It has become a holiday associated with spending time with family, buying people presents, decorating one’s house, and baking cookies. These are ways of celebrating, but not the reason to celebrate, and while all these activities are enjoyable, the most important way to celebrate Christmas is by worshiping Jesus by prayer and participating at Mass. Some people do seem to realize that, as there are Catholics who seldom go to Mass, but return to church to honor Jesus on Christmas. We need to pray they will understand how much Jesus loves them and that they will show their love in return by attending Mass every week. But there are other people who do not go to church even on Christmas and perhaps may not even pray. They are still drawn to the goodness that Christmas represents– which is a beginning in their path to God, but they may not believe or know that Jesus is true God and true man, not just a human; that He came to the world to save us from our sins and give us eternal life with Him; that He came to show us that He is the Way, the Truth, the Life; that He remains with us in the Eucharist and in His Mystical Body, the Catholic Church; and that we can remain close to Him at all times through prayer. This is the good news we need to share with everyone who celebrates Christmas. They will not hear it from the media or perhaps not even from their families. Some people do not even know the traditional Christmas carols, which give the true meaning of Christmas, as most of the Christmas music they hear on the radio and in stores is not really about Christmas, but about such things as snow, reindeer, and presents.

In his General Audience on December 20, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI said: “It is the task of us Christians, with the witness of our life, to spread the truth of Christmas which Christ brings to every man and woman of good will. Born in the poverty of the manger, Jesus comes to offer to all that joy and that peace which alone can fulfill the expectations of the human soul.” Pope Benedict often spoke of joy in his general audiences and homilies during the Advent and Christmas Seasons. In one homily, given on December 18, 2005, he explained that sharing the joy we experience at Christmas can be a way to help people know Jesus. He said: “Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not expensive presents that demand time and money. We can transmit this joy simply: with a smile, with a kind gesture, with some small help, with forgiveness. Let us give this joy and the joy given will be returned to us. Let us seek in particular to communicate the deepest joy, that of knowing God in Christ. Let us pray that this presence of God’s liberating joy will shine out in our lives.”

A priest I am friends with said that we need to be like Saint John the Baptist and proclaim Jesus to everyone we meet. While we need to do this all year, the Christmas Season is the ideal time to share with people why we celebrate and that Jesus came for everyone. Like Saint John the Baptist, we can prepare the way for Jesus to come into His people’s lives.

Photo by Suraj Shakya on Unsplash

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Louise Merrie is a freelance writer on Catholic subjects. Her articles have been published in Catholic Life, Novena Magazine, and the Saint Austin Review. She is the founder of the Community of Mary, Mother of Mercy, an organization in which senior priests and Catholic laity support each other through prayer and friendship in living as disciples of Jesus.

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