"She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins."
Just what is Christmas all about? I’ll answer my own question. It’s the Christmas songs, the beautiful lighted Christmas trees, the manger scene with the Christ child in the crib, the laughter and merry making of family and friends as presents are opened. If that is Christmas, then isn’t the line …"And you shall name him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins"…sort of out of place? Sort of like pulling the plug on T.V. which has been playing Christmas songs, removing the hors d’oeuvres from the table, turning off the lights and insisting on silence? What do we do with this serious line in Advent…"And you shall name him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins"?
I would suggest that this rather serious line will do wonders for our celebration at Christmas. Into our midst comes Jesus, our Immanuel ("God is with us"). It’s so much like the family gathering to welcome home the new born baby in the family. Conversations are halted, the bantering stops and almost in unison is heard, "Ohhhhhhhhh, myyyyyyy!" All the attention goes to the child. Who would walk out of a touching, tender moment as that?!
How could you and I ever walk away from the Nativity scene of Jesus? How could you and I not love Him? How could you and I not accept His love? The added aspect for us adults will be the depth of His love. We will gather for Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The depth of His love for you and me will be realized as we catch a glimpse of the crucifix over the altar. Jesus crucified will not catch the attention of the little ones. That’s okay. But for us adults there can be quiet tears. There is Jesus. And we will go one step further in realizing, "Greater love than this no one has but that he lay down his life for his friends." And this is our Savior, divine friend and brother: Jesus.
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P. is on the staff of Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center, Houston, Texas.