When [Jesus’] parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:48-49)
Finding Jesus in the Liturgical Christmas Season
The Christmas shopping season that traditionally begins on the day after Thanksgiving, and ends on Christmas day, makes it very trying to find Jesus during this highly commercialized period of time. While it is possible, it has become increasingly difficult as advertisers and retailers compete for our time and attention.
Fortunately, as the door of frenzied holiday activity closes, another is opened for the celebration of the liturgical Christmas season. “Finding” Jesus between Christmas day and The Baptism of The Lord, approximately three weeks, has fewer obstacles and is more easily accomplished.
Although Jesus is always present in His “Father’s house”, the Church, He can also be found “wherever two or more are gathered” in His name. Indeed, He can be found dwelling in the heart of every baptized Christian in a state of grace. With Jesus being so accessible, how can He be “lost” during Christmas?
The answer might be found in the above Scripture passage. Looking for Jesus with the “great anxiety” that accompanies shopping, preparing, hosting and the many other activities with which we are burdened, can easily complicate our search.
Growing Deeper in Understanding
While we are called to celebrate the Incarnation of Christ throughout the year, we are given the consecrated time of the Christmas season to grow deeper in our understanding of God-made-flesh, and the ongoing incarnation that is realized in the Body of Christ, the Church. Jesus’ promise to be with us and to work through us can be found in the Gospel of Matthew in what is referred to as the “great commission”:
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
This commandment given to the eleven has been handed down throughout the centuries to all the baptized to bring Christ to others, and to be His ongoing presence in the world. This “Christmas Presence” is the true foundation on which discipleship is built, and points toward the Easter season and beyond, to the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
Christ will raise us up “on the last day”; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1002)
How Blessed We Are!
As we participate in Christian life here on Earth, we are tasked with the responsibilities of evangelization and discipleship in the church and in the world. By virtue of the baptismal dignity we share in the three-fold ministry of Christ: Priest, Prophet, and King. The blessings we receive during Christmas can reverberate in our lives throughout the year. How blessed we are to share in the mystery of the Incarnation of Christ, bringing the Christmas message, Heaven’s glory, and Joy to the world.
Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:
The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal
And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.
The angels and shepherds praise him
And the magi advance with the star,
For you are born for us,
Little Child, God eternal!
(CCC 525; cit. Kontakion of Romanos the Melodist)