by Michael Podrebarac
Archbishop Naumann selected a thoughtful prayer for his Christmas cards this year:
“Lord Jesus Christ, you were born in a stable, and slept in a manger, because the world provided you no other option.
“That stable prefigured our sanctuaries, for it was therein that the shepherds, the Magi and other people of good will came to see you and adore you, and the angels kept watch there.
“Your manger prefigured our tabernacles, for it was therein that you reposed in your newborn body and blood, with your soul and divinity.
“In this holy season of Christmas, wherein we recall your Incarnation, grant us to remember that you still dwell with us, and repose before us, your body and blood, soul and divinity now dwelling among us in our churches and our tabernacles.
“May we never cease to come to adore you with the very zeal of those who heard the angels and followed the star, and found, much to the world’s indifference, that you are with us. Amen.”
Several songs speak of how better the world might be if Christmas lasted the whole year through. The peace, joy and love, the kindness and generosity, all throughout the year. “Oh, that we could always see such spirit through the year,” to quote the venerable Peanuts gang.
Charles Dickens, through his Ghost of Christmas Present, has an apt response:
“We Spirits of Christmas do not live only one day of our year. We live the whole three-hundred and sixty-five. So is it true of the Child born in Bethlehem. He does not live in men’s hearts one day of the year, but in all days of the year.”
Our Lord says it even more expressly, and quite to the point of the archbishop’s Christmas card prayer:
“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. . . . And lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the world. . . . Do not be afraid, for it is I. . . . Where I am, my servants will be.”
Christ first came to us at Christmas, being born of Blessed Mary, and taking on our flesh so that he could live among us. Christ gave his own flesh and blood for our salvation. Christ still gives his very flesh and blood in the Eucharist, which commemorates his death and resurrection, that he would be always with us and within us. Abiding in him, we are able to make him present to others.
Our churches are Bethlehem, our sanctuaries are stables and our tabernacles are mangers. Like his holy Mother, we are privileged to bear him to the world.
See, the Incarnation never ceases. Therefore, neither does Christmas.