Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help (26 December 2015)
The build up towards Christmas must have been a busy, exciting time for most of us. There was much to look forward to and we spent four weeks of Advent anticipating the birth of our Lord. Christmas Day must have been even busier with meals and celebrations with friends and family. Now with the flurry of events over, some of us might as – ‘What now?’ What should we do on Boxing Day or how should we commemorate the Feast of St Stephen?
I’ve often wondered what happened to the Holy Family the morning immediately after the birth of our Lord. I’m sure they moved out of the cave or stable they were in to a better place to take care of baby Jesus. I’m sure they must have been worried about their future, of the journey back to Nazareth and how to take care of the one who is supposed to be the Messiah. The gospels are very thin in their description of what happened to them after the Nativity. “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:40) One line in the Gospel of Luke is all we have to describe what happened to Jesus between his Presentation to when he was found in the Temple of Jerusalem twelve years later. There’s an almost anticlimactic feel after all the drama of the Annunciation, Visitation and the Nativity.
Jesus’ life and the life of his family seems so normal. It’s almost incongruous to try to match his birth which had angels singing ‘Gloria in Excelsis Deo’ to his life as the son of a carpenter in a backwater town like Nazareth. Some write that Jesus ‘descended’ into normality, ordinariness and obscurity. Normality seems almost like a bad thing. But then looking at things from that angle, we might forget the very reason why Jesus came down to earth in the first place. He was incarnated, made flesh, so that he could share in our humanity. God was made human so that he could share in our human ordinariness.
With this in mind, perhaps the day(s) after Christmas may not be so much of an anticlimax after all. The ordinariness is indeed very important and perhaps, how we live this ordinariness reflects how we actually choose to follow the Lord in our lives. Christmas thus becomes less of a single event or day that passes quickly but a way of living life, of bringing the Lord into our everyday living so that we can bear the light and joy of Emmanuel, God-with-us, in real ways to those around.
Recognising this, we realise that though we may seem ordinary, we are also gifted in many different ways in our ability to serve the Lord. We make use of these gifts while reveling in the ordinariness of our human condition. Such was the life that Jesus himself led for 30 years and such was the life that St Joseph and our Blessed Mother led all their lives. They learned what it meant to be ordinary while spreading light and joy wherever they went.
And that’s what I believe we need to do in this Christmas season and beyond. To carry the Christmas joy to all whom we meet and t o be true ambassadors of the Lord who truly became human to be with us in our ordinariness. And we continue the celebration of Christmas by acting to love in any way that we can. Only then will we truly carry the spirit of Christmas with us always, and not just in this season. And only then will we be able to accept and enjoy our own ordinariness which, because of our individual gifts, are indeed quite extraordinary in themselves.
Blessed and Joyous Christmas to one and all!