Rushing frenetically, buying and consuming, having and possessing, eating and enjoying, singing and feasting, wining and dining—all of these words characterize what we call The Christmas Season. Not that all of the above are wrong; however, it is all too easy to leap over the primary Reason for the Season!
THE REASON FOR THE SEASON is not so much things that can be bought, given, and possessed. Rather the real Reason for the Season is a PERSON, His Birthday that we celebrate and the purpose for His coming. That PERSON is the SECOND PERSON of the Blessed Trinity—JESUS!!! His name signifies His purpose for coming into this world.
JESUS-SAVIOR! The Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that the name of the Child she would conceive would be Jesus. Why? Because He would save the people of their sins. True! The primary purpose for the coming of Jesus was to save the world at large, and all of us individually, from the reality of sin which leads to eternal death and total ruin!
AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE. For this reason, we should all cultivate an attitude of gratitude towards Jesus, Mary, and Good Saint Joseph. With great trust and hope we firmly believe that Heaven will one day be ours for all eternity! With hearts overflowing with love, joy, and gratitude we thank the Lord Jesus for coming into the world to save us. We thank the Blessed Virgin Mary for accepting the will of God to bring Jesus the Savior into the world!
In this meditation/contemplation for Christmas and the Christmas Season we would like to present some of the key persons, places, circumstances, and things, and a symbolic interpretation, with the purpose and intention of fostering within your hearts a greater love and gratitude for the immense love that Jesus, the Savior, in the arms of Mary and Saint Joseph, has for you now and always!
SYMBOLIC INTERPRETATION OF THE CHRISTMAS EVENT…
1. THE SHEPHERDS. One of the most common images in all of Sacred Scripture is that of the Shepherd, with the sheep, the pastures, and the enemies that surround both sheep and shepherd. What can we learn from the shepherds? Much indeed! Silence, simplicity, steadfastness, serenity, and security in God. You might call it the 5 S’s! Jesus will eventually become the Good Shepherd of the flock (John 10). We too are called to be good shepherds to the sheep of our flock! The secret? Very simple: for us to be good shepherds to our sheep, we must be good sheep of the Good Shepherd, Jesus the Lord!
2. The word Angel from Greek actually means Messenger. The angels sing out with joy: “Glory to God in the highest and peace to people of good will.” (Lk 2:14) We are all called to be like the angels in the sense that we are called to announce the Good News of salvation in Jesus the Lord by our words and by our example. Come, Lord Jesus, come!!!
3. JOURNEY TO BETHLHEM. Long, cold, windy, perilous, exhausting and draining—all of these are just a few words that describe the long journey from Nazareth to the city of Bethlehem that Joseph and Mary undertook under obedience to the law decreed by Caesar. Imagine and contemplate a young woman nine months pregnant travelling mile upon mile on a donkey! Personal interpretation! We are all pilgrim people travelling on our journey to our eternal homeland, which is heaven. To arrive demands on our part hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, strength and courage, stamina and perseverance. However, of greatest importance in our travel and journey to heaven is the dire need to stay close to Jesus, Mary, and Saint Joseph the whole way until our entrance into heaven is a sure reality!
4. THE INNKEEPERS AND THEIR “NO”!!! When we travel and arrive at our final destination we hope to receive a warm and loving greeting from relatives and friends. This is common courtesy! Mary, Saint Joseph, and the Baby Jesus within the womb of Mary, received nothing of the sort, to say the least! Quite the contrary: they met with rejection! Among the saddest words in the Infancy Narratives are: “There was no place for Him in the Inn!” (Lk 2:7) The natural reasons for the rejection are open for speculation. Possibly the Innkeepers did not want poor people entering who could not pay the bill. Perhaps the Innkeepers, seeing Mary with child, feared a loud and noisy baby and all the commotion of the birth. Maybe the Innkeepers simply had their doors open to relatives—which Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were not! Interpretation: the rejection of the Innkeepers has a deeper symbolic interpretation: the reality of committing mortal sin. Whenever we are guilty of the commission of mortal sin, then in all truth we reject Jesus from the interior Inn of our hearts. May God save us from the reality of mortal sin, and if we have fallen may we repent through penance and the Sacrament of Confession!
5. THE CAVE/STABLE OF BETHLEHEM. Damp, cold, humid, foul-smelling, hard, dim and dark—these are limited descriptions of the humble cave of Bethlehem. Interpretation: the cave/stable of Bethlehem symbolizes the human heart and its response to the immense love of God. One of the greatest sufferings of the Heart of the Infant Lord Jesus is the widespread and pervasive presence of indifference and coldness towards His Infinite love. Too many people are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm. God’s response to these is He wants to spit them out of His mouth. Jesus said: “I have come to cast fire on the earth and I am not at peace until that fire be enkindled.” (Lk 12:49) May our hearts be flaming conflagrations of love for Jesus and all that He has done for us! May Our Lady help us!
6. THE MAGI: THE WISE MEN. Traditionally the Church has believed that there were three magi or wise men from the East who traveled following the star. Much can be said of these three Kings. We will offer one simple point for reflection: their desire to encounter God!!! May all of us have an ardent desire to encounter God more often and powerfully in our daily lives! Ways to encounter God are many. The following are a few: prayer, meditation, contemplation, spiritual reading, the Sacraments, especially Mass and Holy Communion, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, Spiritual Direction and Confession, service to the poor, etc. May the example of the wise men make us more wise in cultivating a daily pursuit of longing for God! May this verse from one of the Psalms motivate us: “As the deer yearns for the running streams, so my souls yearns for you, O God.” (Ps 42:1)
7. THE STAR. It was by means of the star that the wise men eventually encountered the Holy Family: Jesus in the arms of Mary, with Saint Joseph at their side. This star led the Magi to Jesus, the Son of God made man. Personal interpretation: God has placed many stars in the firmament of our universe! These are persons, places, and events that God in His loving and divine Providence has placed in our lives to lead us to Him. For these stars we should be eternally grateful! Rewind the film of your life and you will become aware of the many stars that God has placed in your path to draw you out of evil, or prevent you from falling into a deep moral pit. As well as persons who have helped you to persevere in the grueling task of following the Lord in all of His demands. Examine your life and point out the stars in the firmament of your own personal sky and render abundant thanks to the Lord and His Holy Mother!
8. THE THREE GIFTS TO JESUS FROM THE MAGI: GOLD, FRANKINCENSE, AND MYRRH. Christmas is a time in which we should think on what I can give Jesus as a special gift. The Magi offered Jesus three special gifts with are charged with deep symbolism. Let us dive in!
a) GOLD—This Gift given to Jesus who is King. Interpretation: Let us give to Jesus through others our alms-giving with a truly generous heart. Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and he wants to reign in the world, but starting in our own hearts.
b) FRANKINCENSE—This Gift symbolizes Jesus as God. Our incense rises as a fragrant aroma to God. Interpretation: let us increase and intensify our personal prayer life; let us plumb the depths of the love of God through meditation, contemplation, and deep prayer!
c) MYRRH—This Gift symbolizes the Humanity of Jesus destined to suffer and die for us on the cross for the eternal salvation of our soul. Interpretation: the call to offer sacrifices to Jesus for the conversion of sinners and the salvation of souls.
In conclusion, Gold, alms-giving for the Royalty of Jesus the King; Incense, for prayer to Jesus who is truly God; and Myrrh, sacrifices offered to the Humanity of Jesus who died on the cross for us, to give us life and life in abundance!
9. KING HEROD. This wicked King, insecure, jealous and envious, bitter and hateful, had a plan so as to secure His Kingship and power over others. The plan was nothing other than to kill the baby boys two years and younger in and around Bethlehem. Most specifically Herod had in mind Jesus—the King that the Magi brought to Herod’s attention. Therefore, this wicked King Herod brutally massacred numbers of innocent children, ripping them from their mothers’ arms and slaughtering them in the presence of their mothers. These we call the Holy Innocents! Interpretation: Herod represents the whole ugly, diabolic reality of ABORTION—the killing, the massacre of innocent unborn babies. Since the Legalization of Abortion with the 1973 Roe Vs Wade Decision, close to 62 million babies have been murdered!
10. SAINT JOSEPH. It is very difficult to render sufficient homage and honor to Glorious Saint Joseph, who is the greatest of all of the saints. Why? Because of his sublime vocation and office. Saint Joseph was both the spouse of Mary the Mother of God, as well as the earthly Father of Jesus, our Lord and God. Interpretation: just one note of praise to the Glorious Saint Joseph taken from the great Saint Teresa of Avila. She named Glorious Saint Joseph, The Master of the Interior Life. This title means that he is the Master of prayer. In His human nature, Jesus grew in age, grace, and knowledge before God and man. It was Saint Joseph who taught Jesus how to use human words to pray: Abba, Good Shepherd, the Goodness and Mercy of God—all were words that Saint Joseph and Mary taught the Child Jesus in the pathway of prayer. May Good Saint Joseph grant us the desire and good will to grow in our own personal prayer life!
11. THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY. Words cannot explain the greatness of Mary, the Mother of God. Poetic and Mystical names for Mary abound: Tower of David, Tower of Ivory, Gate of Heaven, Health of the Sick, Queen of Angels, Queen of Saints, Queen of the Heaven and earth, Queen of all hearts, Star of the Morning, Star of the Sea (Stella Maris), and many, many others are the glorious titles for Mary. However, the greatest of all titles for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and especially related to Christmas, is that of MARY, THE MOTHER OF GOD!!! We will lay one simple idea on your hearts, taken from Saint Augustine: “If we were to gather all of the love of all the mothers of all times and places, and bring them all together, the love that Mary the Mother of God has is far greater than all the love of all of the mothers of all time for you and for me!!!” This thought should fill you with the greatest peace, security, and joy!!! However, it should also motivate you to love Mary as your Mother all the more, and bring many others to the love of Mary as Mother. Our Lady said to Saint Juan Diego: “Do not worry! Am I not your Mother. I have you in the crossing of my arms, in my shadow, and you are in the fold of my apron.” (Our Lady of Guadalupe to Saint Juan Diego, Dec. 12, 1531)
12. THE LORD, GOD AND SAVIOR. Of course the very center and focus of Christmas is the Person of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, born of the Virgen Mary in Bethlehem. We will offer one short but profound reflection of Jesus born in Bethlehem. The word Bethlehem means House of Bread. Later on, during the course of His Public Ministry, in the synagogue of Capernaum, Jesus delivered one of His most powerful discourses, called The Bread of Life Discourse. The essence of His discourse can be summarized in these few words in His preaching: “I am the Bread of Life come down from Heaven. Whoever eats my body and drinks my Blood will have everlasting life and I will raise him up on the last day.” (Jn 6) How appropriate! Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the House of Bread, so that later on in His Preaching He could clearly teach that to attain eternal life it is essential to nourish our souls on the Bread of Life. This greatest of all gifts can be received every time one participates fully, actively, consciously, and worthily in Mass and receives Holy Communion. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts we can offer Jesus on Christmas, in the Christmas Season, and always, is to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receive Holy Communion, the Bread of Life with faith, humility, devotion, and love. If done, the Kingdom of God is within us!
In conclusion, let us lift our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls and offer a hymn of praise and thanks to Jesus who came into this world, through the Yes of Mary, to save us and to bring us one day to our eternal rest, the Home of the Eternal Father, Heaven!!!