Writing these reflections always gives me great joy, but also a sense of dislocation. Here I am writing the day before Thanksgiving in the United States (I realize that our friends in Canada celebrate a similar holiday much earlier and that it is not known in many other parts of the world), yet the date of this reflection is December 12, 2011 — less than two weeks before Christmas.
I have to confess that when I was newly married, I grew to dislike Christmas. When I was young and single in college, and later in law school, little was expected of me in the Advent season. I had final exams to study for, I didn't write Christmas cards and my shopping (as such) was accomplished in a few hours on December 23 or so. I wrapped a few gifts, I went to Mass with my family, we opened gifts and it was over.
As I transitioned to real adulthood, with a wife and children, I found the holiday more burdensome. There were many more gifts to buy, Christmas cards had to be written, and negotiations over how much time would be spent with each side of the family. Truth be told, December 26 became one of my favorite days of the year.
At some point, however, I began to realize that I had completely lost sight of the Christmas mystery and its centrality to Christianity. I started to view Christmas as a job rather than as a joyful revelation of the nearly incomprehensible fact that God decided to take the human form in Jesus for the sole purpose of our salvation.
Today's readings snapped me back to attempting to contemplate a fact that nearly defies contemplation. God did all of that because He loves us. Loving Him back isn't a job; it should be about the easiest thing in the world once we remember the real reason for Advent.
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