In one Peanuts comic strip, Lucy says Christmas is a time for kindness and a time to forgive one another. To this Charlie Brown responds: “Why do that just at Christmas? Why can’t we have the Christmas spirit the rest of the year?” Lucy looks at Charlie and says, “What are you, some kind of religious fanatic?”
This is already the fifth day of Christmas. The challenge we face is how to keep the spirit of Christmas alive all year long. Eventually the Christmas cookies go stale, the Christmas candles burn out, the Christmas songs get boring, and the Christmas trees dry up. Yet the Christmas message is as fresh today as it was two thousand years ago: God so loved the world, the human family that he sent his beloved Son, Jesus.
God still loves the human family. But now he sends you and me to bring Jesus to this world. How do we do that? With words and actions.
We bring Christ to others when we speak words of affection, like those written in our Christmas cards. We bring Christ to others when we speak positive words, words that build up and don’t tear down.
We bring Christ to others when we speak those beautiful words, “I’m sorry”, and “I forgive”. We also bring Christ to others when we speak the simple word, “Welcome”, at the door of our house and at the door of the church.
We bring Christ to others when we give food to the poor, and feed them the gift of a smile. We bring Christ to our family when we feed them with the gift of our time, a listening ear and an understanding heart.
We bring Christ to others when we comfort the bereaved, work for peace, and help those whose hearts are broken.
In the words of Calvin Coolidge, the 30th U. S. President: “Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.”
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/