Only four days and Christians around the world will be gathering to celebrate the Birth of the Baby Jesus. And would be nice if we could pause life, and enjoy it. But life doesn't work like that. Life continues and as the commercial says, "Life comes at you fast." Poverty, war, suffering, sickness and death do not stop for Christmas. Even the more immediate problems at work or in the family continue. Actually, the holidays tend to exacerbate some of those problems. And yet we are expected to walk around still saying, "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" (for the politically correct). It all seems kind of ridiculous. Except for one thing.
Today we hear a promise given voice through the prophet Isaiah,
the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,and shall name him Emmanuel.
God is with Us.
The new translation of the creed is more accurate. Jesus was born before all ages. He always existed. But through the Virgin Maria he became incarnate, flesh and blood, a tangible participation in our human life. In the Old Testament you have intermittent contact through prophets, signs and wonders. Through the Virgin Mary God was now something, some one who could be seen, heard, and touched directly.
Bur even more important are the last words of Jesus at the end of Matthew's Gospel.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.
From the point of view of the world, with the Ascension Jesus disappeared. But we know better. He promised to remain and He always keeps his promises.
Will there be Christmas craziness? Of course there will. There always is. But we can face it all because we know we are celebrating not the birth of a baby in Bethlehem but the Birth of a new age for the world and age in which God is constantly with every single member of his body, the Church. From the moment of our Baptism, Emmauel, God is with us. This is the age in which we live. And this is why no matter what is going on around us we can honestly say, "Merry Christmas."