Let’s not. Let’s not reduce Christmas to a mere “children’s” celebration. Let’s not paint the Bethlehem portal in glitter. The Gospels describe the birth of Jesus in a different way. When we place the Christ Child at the centre, let us not remove the deeper religious – and even in some respects dramatic – dimension that goes with that birth and its protagonists. I know that this is not easy, because the external decorations of our streets and the internal stress of our shopping and planning take us to another continent. Please, let Christmas not be reduced to a “winter party” (which is legitimate for those who do not believe) or to a few days of excess, full of nostalgia and melancholy, because what we long for does not come to pass.
But neither should Christmas be stripped of its childish profile. Christ’s warning remains valid: “Unless you become as little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3). The childhood referred to in the Gospel is a compound of trust, simplicity and clean surrender. It should not necessarily disappear with the passing of the years to be replaced by frivolity, waste or artifice. Let us dust off, then, that seed of childhood which never dies and which our best carols remind us of with candour. Can we forget this verse from “El tamborilero”?
“I would like to lay at your feet
some gift that pleases you, Lord,
but You know that I am poor too,
and I possess nothing but an old drum”.
At a time when we all tend to get closer to our loved ones, to enjoy good food, to sing, to toast and embrace, to get excited about the lottery or to shed a tear at some unforeseen gift, … perhaps we also tend to go overboard. The ideal of a real Christmas should occupy a little corner of our soul. Therefore, to the lonely and strange person near you, give a little piece of your precious time; to the migrant who crosses your path, do not deny him the sweetness of listening; to the one who has nothing, give him some of what you spend on nonsense; to the slave of vice, show him the beauty of flying free, without throwing his filth in his face; to the one who is in a slumber, speak to him of Jesus and Mary?
These are beautiful things, and difficult perhaps, even though they are within reach. In Advent we prepare for the Christmas that is in sight. An English proverb says: “Everything is difficult before it is simple”. If we reach out with love to the suffering or desperate, we will see how easy it is to work a miracle.
Juan Carlos cmf
(PHOTO: Víctor Rocha)