Weekly Reflection -- Giving Thanks for the Gift

By Fr. Mike Boutin

In the beginning was the Word; the Word was in God's presence, and the Word was God. He was present to God in the beginning. Through him all things came into being, and apart from him, nothing came to be. Whatever came to be in him, found life, life for the light of all. The light shines on in darkness, a darkness that did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

Listen to "O Holy Night" the way it was originally intended to be sung, in French. This brought back lots of very fond childhood memories of Midnight Mass in my home parish of St. Louis de France, Lowell, MA.

After weeks of preparing, it's all "wrapped up," pardon the pun, in a few short minutes. In a whirlwind of wrapping paper and bows and boxes and plastic packaging, all your hard work and preparations for Christmas are unraveled as all the gifts are unwrapped, and everyone moves on to the next consumer blitzkrieg of Valentine's Day... Does Hallmark even know who St. Valentine is?

But wait: this year, before it's all done, before Christmas is just an eggnog-induced headache, take a moment this week to breathe, and to rejoice: "Hodie, Christus natus est." "Today, Christ is born."  We don't just remember what happened in Bethlehem 2000 years... we believe Christ is born today... again... in a new and sacramental way... Christ comes as light in the darkness, born into the stables of our broken world, to bring healing and peace, joy and new life... today... now... here....

Children help us to see that joy and peace. Just don't get so jaded that you miss it this year, okay? The credit card bills will still be there tomorrow... the family problems won't all be solved... health concerns are real... but this week, on Christmas night, try to see the world the way a little child does: waiting with expectation for Santa... and for all the promise and hope he brings on his sleigh. Santa represents the redemption and hope of the Savior who is born Christmas night into our hearts and world. Rejoice. Celebrate. Laugh. Cry. But live....

Christmas is lived well when it's not a day, but a way of life. Christ came that we might have life and have it to the full. That's better than any present, any Christmas dinner, any carol. Christ was born into our human condition so that we might become one with Him. That tiny child who shivers in the cold is the same one who poured out his blood on the Cross for us. His wooden manger is the wood of the Cross. He is our Savior, born to die...so that we might live.

So when the wrapping is all gone, and the lights have dimmed, and the kids are finally asleep, remember why we do it all every Christmas and give thanks...

Now pray....


Father Mike Boutin is the co-pastor of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Walpole, MA, and travels widely, leading pilgrimages throughout the world to various Catholic religious sites. He is a frequent speaker on liturgy, music, spirituality, and pastoral ministry.

12/22/2009 5:00:00 AM
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