As with the shepherds keeping watch, our faith journey to the feet of the infant God-made-man in the manger always leads us to a choice. We are faced with many roads along the way. The road to the manger leads to the road of discipleship, then to the road to Calvary, and finally to the road of resurrection and the empty tomb. The choices we make along this journey are those that can enable us to bring Christmas to completion.
The work of Christmas is for us to discover the Christ who is truly among us and to reflect his life in our own. Mary’s presence in the Christmas experience is significant. She comes to symbolize God's coming into our hearts with his transforming presence. Longing for the light eventually brings the light. Faith opens into trust, and trust is not disappointed because the love of God is poured forth in the hearts of the brokenhearted.
Mary, as the Mother of our God, becomes our mother. It is she in whose arms the Babe nestled at birth, and in whose arms the crucified Son lay at the foot of the Cross. "Mary, the Mother of God" is perhaps the most significant of her titles. An ordinary girl was called to bring forth the Word of Salvation, to care for Him, to nurture Him, to feed Him with the fruits of this life so that He could feed others with the gift of Eternal Life.
There is innocence here, as there is with every baby born into this world. There is parental hope and dreams. There is the wonder of God at work in our midst. There is appreciation for the way this Child will reveal God's active and loving presence. There is hope here for all of us to share. We again retell this story with the conviction that His Spirit is active everywhere and that because of this Child, God's revelation is not confined to this place, this event, or this time in history.
Christmas touches us because it is a story challenging us to turn upside down where we look for the sacred. This story enables us to learn again to recognize the presence of God in the ordinary people and things around us - in the innocence of our infants, in the questioning of our seven year-olds, in the energy and restlessness of our teenagers, in the rapture of lovers, in the courage and generosity of the young-married, in the freedom and dedication of the single adults, in the wisdom and patience of parents, in the peaceful strength of the aging and in the quiet resignation of the suffering.
This is the real meaning of Christmas. We celebrate not just a past event, but a present reality. We look to the motherhood of Mary to remind us that this Child is a Child of our own. Through Mary, we can begin to uderstand that we too are called to bring forth the presence of Jesus in our world, to bring His love and forgiveness to our relationships, to bring His patience and courage to our sufferings and trials, to bring His compassion to the poor and the hungry and the homeless, to bring His total trust in God the Father to the dark moments when we feel abandoned or overwhelmed.
The message of Christ Incarnate continues to present a timeless challenge to all people of good will. Let us continue this work of Christmas each day of the approaching New Year. Let us be God's holy people. Let us be light in darkness, peacemakers and life-givers in every aspect of our lives.