The great Solemnity of Christmas is finally upon us and how splendid and glorious it is. Traditional hymns and Christmas songs contain great theological lessons within them — individual lines, even, carrying more weight and truth than a typical homily. "Veiled in Flesh Thy Godhead see, hail the Incarnate Deity" from "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." Or how about "Remember Christ Our Savior was born on Christmas day; to save us all from Satan's power when we were gone astray" from "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."
What is Christmas other than the initiation of Heaven's great plan to bring about our redemption? Yet so overwhelming is that single thought, so impossible to get our minds around, that God Himself would actually come to save us that it has to be packaged up and presented in the most innocent and simple of presentations — a small little baby. Nothing Heaven does is ever short of stunning. This, however, for us cannot remain the sole disposition — to just stand at the creche and marvel, as marvelous and worthy of being marveled over as it is.
During the solemnity of Christmas, the octave or the eight days following, the particular feasts Holy Mother Church proposes for us to contemplate, don't at first seem to have anything to do with Christmas, yet, there they are, nestled right into the very octave itself. The day after Christmas Day is the feast of St. Stephen — the first man martyred for the Faith. Then, we have immediately following him the feast of the Holy Innocents — the male children under two years old butchered by Herod's lust for power. Then, there is two days later, the feast of St. Thomas Becket, murdered at the altar by yet another vicious monarch thirsty for power.
Why does Our Holy Mother Church insert such reminders into the very Octave of Christmas itself? Because total offering is what Christmas is all about. It's difficult to keep this in mind amidst all the hubbub of a secularized Christmas where the emphasis has been completely flipped from giving to getting. But this is precisely what Christmas is all about, giving ourselves to that small child who gave up everything, even the visible grandeur of His glory so that He might save us. "Mild He lays His glory by, born that men no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth" from "Hark the Herald angels sing," again.
So, while you are standing at the creche after Mass this Christmas season offer the most sincere prayer you can of gratitude: Thank you, my sweet Babe, for all You have done to save me. Then immediately follow up with a petition: Take my whole life as you gave yours and as this week's martyrs gave theirs in imitation of You so that I may be joined to You in the great work of Your salvation of saving souls.
Christmas is about nothing less than dying to ourselves. God love you — and from the entire staff here at St. Michael's Media and Church Militant, a very blessed, happy and Holy Christmas to all of you and your family and friends.