“Keep Christ In Christmas” – But Which Christ?

A minute meditation on Franciscan media “Bring the Gospel back into Christmas” stopped me cold in my tracks! Why? Judge for yourself…

We ask ourselves, what is to be done, what can we do to bring the Christ of the Gospel back into Christmas in a way that is more than a bumper sticker slogan that ends up being mainly a political football?

How can we bring the Christ of the Gospel back into our daily lives so that we actually live out the teachings of the Gospel where we first learned the story of Christ?

And this very Gospel emphasizes over and over again the imperative of reaching out to those who, like the man in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, have fallen among thieves, which in turn calls to mind the rapaciousness of those forces and structures that control our economy and of the many who are left by the wayside. How, then, can we today reach out to those fallen and to the thieves, as well?

It is not just about keeping Christ in Christmas but keeping the Christ of the Gospels in our celebrations and our lives.

How can we celebrate the Christ of the gospel?

Having been in some form of education all my life I constructed a brief quiz for myself. But the quiz does not focus on our words but how our lives manifest answers to the following questions.

Does my life act out a lived belief in

  • Jesus’ answer to the question of who is my neighbor by telling the story of the Good Samaritan?
  • Jesus’ summary of all the laws and prophets… Love God and express God’s love for you in loving your neighbor as yourself (as God loves you.)?
  • Jesus who taught us to pray “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”?
  • Jesus who speaks of our final judgment in terms of “Whatsoever you did not do for the least of my brothers and sisters you did not do unto me”
  • And… the big question… Jesus asked the night before he died for us “Do you understand what I have done for you in washing your feet? Do this in memory of me!”

I must admit that at each Eucharist the words “Do this in memory of me” raises the question do I wash the feet of my brothers and sisters.

Celebrating the Christ of the Gospels calls for personal conversion.

How did you do on this quiz about the Christ we want to keep in Christmas? My answers were very mixed.

How do you think Saint Vincent and Saint Louise did on this quiz?

  • Vincent and Louise kept the Christ of the Gospels beginning with Christmas
  • Vincent and Louise kept this Christ in Christmas not only during the season of Advent and Christmas
  • Vincent and Louise recognized the challenge of the birth of Jesus as the challenge to live by what he taught, lived and died for

The birth of Jesus is but the first part of a single story that begins with Incarnation and goes through Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, and the coming of the Spirit.

They “got” the meaning of the Incarnation, God becoming flesh, to show us how to live in the midst of our daily life.

Vincent saw Christ in every human being no matter how scarred. He pointedly said, “Let us love God… but let it be by the sweat of our brows and the strength of our arms.”

Keeping the Christ of the Gospels in Christmas is much more than challenging the commercial orthodoxy of how we greet one another at the season and our choice of secular or religious Christmas cards.

Food for thought

  • What has been my idea of “keeping Christ in Christmas?”
  • How would God grade my answers to the quiz of life?
  • Does the idea of keeping the Christ of the Gospels in Christmas change the way I think about Christmas?

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