By: Fr. J.D. Jaffe, Director of Vocations
There is no more apparent clash between the secular and the religious, the profane and the sacred, than the time of Christmas in the United States. As Advent wreaths and calendars try to mark off the days until the commemoration of the birth of Christ, a war of slogans begins to unfold.
A sign sits in my neighbor’s yard, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” and a bumper sticker reads, “Keep Christ in CHRISTmas.” The “Happy Holidays” signs are rolled out next to numerous “Seasons Greetings” banners in stores and plazas. Christmas music (or at least “holiday” music) takes over radio stations and is pumped through stores for all to hear, and most to enjoy. A public bus ambles by me with a paid advertisement all along the side that says: “Why believe in god? Be good for goodness’ sake.” An atheist friend tells me: “I love this time of year, it is a great time to celebrate family and friends…I mean I do not believe all that stuff about Jesus, but you have to admit there is something fun about celebrating this season.”
The real joy of Christmas cannot be contained, even by the boundaries of Christianity. A great event took place 2,000 years ago in the town of Bethlehem, when an infant changed the world forever. This moment in history has proven to be so influential that it seems all are still affected. I find it interesting that so many people celebrate this season; even those who are not Christian or have rejected Christianity. Sure, they may claim to do so without being affected by religion, but the truth is that Christianity offers us joy; and the celebration of Christmas spreads a cheer that is far-reaching and widely accepted. This attempt to celebrate “the season,” even without “the reason,” shows us the power of the real joy of Christmas.
The joy of Christmas for Christians is not merely a passing happiness or earthly moment of temporary pleasure. Yes, we too, see the season as a way to enjoy family and friends, and possibly even the occasional office party. The season stands for more than a simple enjoyment of music, cookies, decorations, gifts and holiday cheer. We have the true and eternal joy of the promise of Emmanuel, meaning “God is with us.”
It is Christ’s promise that we are not alone in this world and that humanity does not need to feel lost or abandoned that warms our heart the most. We have a “Guide,” one whom was sent into this world from the Heavenly Father, to be with us along the way, who will in the end return us to Him.
The secularization of the season does not bother me, as much as it inspires me. It helps me to see how much our society thirsts for God. It is a testimony to the desire for the real joy of Christmas, that we are not alone. God is with us!
Do you ever think about helping others get to heaven? Do you feel called to be a part of this systematic care of souls in the Diocese of Arlington?
Contact Fr. Jaffe at email@example.com or (703) 841-2514.