Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased!
Many ask this time of year, “What is the true meaning of Christmas?” I dare say that some people ask themselves that question throughout their whole lives; not just at this time of year. If you were to ask enough people what their answer is to the question you would probably get a whole range of answers. Christmas means so many things to so many people.
There are some who would say that the true meaning of Christmas is helping their fellow man. Just as Jesus was born into a poor, lowly state, and identified more openly with the poor, so we ought to take the meaning of Christmas to be helping those who, like Jesus, do not have the financial advantages of others. Christmas means giving, especially to the less fortunate.
There are others who may say that Christmas is really about ensuring good will among all peoples. That since Jesus is the Savior of the World, the true meaning of Christmas is doing all we can to promote and create understanding and acceptance of all people regardless of their race, beliefs, or national origin. There is a social consciousness grounding to their true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is a time to do those things and to follow the example of Christ. Isn’t that something that we should be about all the rest of the year as well? It is part of our Christian calling.
I would like to offer a definition of the true meaning of Christmas as a love story. It is a love story about how God loves mankind with the love that will never be matched. That is the true meaning of Christmas. Everything that happened on this night of Jesus’ birth two thousand eighteen years ago has to do with love.
This love story on a human level is a love story about a husband and wife. Joseph loved Mary so much that he would go to any length to protect her and care for her. Joseph was willing to do all that he could to guard and protect his espoused wife so that she could bring forth the savior.
Christmas is a love story of the love of a mother for her child. No one loves a child as a mother loves a child. No human has been as devoted to Jesus as his mother. Mary loved her child Jesus so much that she was willing to face possible death and certain alienation to fulfill her calling as the Blessed Virgin Mary; the Mother of God. No one would know Jesus better than his Mother Mary.
Christmas’s purpose as a love story can be witnessed in the shepherds’ awe and wonder. The appearance of the angel and the multitude of angels awakened in them the same sense in all of us to become lost in awe, wonder, love and praise in the presence of God. They could not wait, but had to run to see and reverence this Jesus at the manger in Bethlehem. The shepherds were told the good news by the angel and they knew the sense of love, wonder and praise that the Christ Child deserved and ran to the manger worship him.
One can take Christmas as a love story and can be supported in that definition in any one of these scenes. The greatest revelation of Christmas’s true meaning as a love story is the love of God for all mankind. It is that love that God has for mankind that had Him enter time and space and become a man in the person of Jesus Christ. As the Bible says, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. To give oneself so completely as to share the very nature of man is truly the highest form of love. God loved us so much that He was willing to humble himself and become one with us. That is the most amazing love story.
But then we are talking about the true meaning of Christmas. Why would God do that? He would do it out of the love, but the true end and purpose is salvation. Once again, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him may not perish, but have eternal life. God loved us so much that He came to save us. He loves us and saves us; there is Christmas’s true meaning. If we look at all the love in the Christmas story, we will find the true meaning of Christmas.
God blesses us this night by loving us so much that He came to redeem us. What better form of giving? What better form of peace and harmony? What better form of love?
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.