“A child is born for us, a son is given to us.” (Is. 9:6)
“To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”(Lk. 2:11)
Christmas season is celebrated from evening prayer of Christmas Eve until Sunday after the Epiphany, or after January 6. Christmas season celebrates:
- Christ’s birth
- Early Manifestations
Key feasts in this season include:
- December 25 The Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord
- Sunday within the octave is the Feast of the Holy Family
- December 26 Feast of St. Stephen
- December 27 Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist
- December 28 Feast of the Holy Innocents
- January 1, Solemnity of the Feast, Mary, Mother of God
- January 6, Epiphany
- Sunday after Epiphany is the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord
Christmas season moves us to consider the implications of the Incarnation. The incarnation meant that God had entered our understanding of time. Why would God choose to visit us in the flesh? The Church teaches that God became flesh for several reasons:
- To save us by reconciling us with God
- So that we might know God’s love
- To be our model of holiness
- So that we can be partakers, or share, in the divine nature
God came in the flesh because God loves us. This loves reveals something about the mercy of God. Whenever we are tempted to despair or to question God’s plan for us, it helps to recall Jesus among us. He came so that we might know God’s love.
Dating of Christmas
While the exact date of Jesus’ birth is not known, the Church came to celebrate his birth on December 25. Some early writers, like Hippolytus of Rome (ca. 204), was one of the first to note that Jesus was born on December 25. The feast of the dedication of the Temple of Jerusalem was celebrated on that day as well. The date given by Hippolytus, however, may have been inspired by a well-known Roman feast. The feast of Christmas developed in the 4th century when it replaced the Sol Invictus, or the Roman Feast of the invincible sun. Jesus, then, replaced this feast as he is the truth light that overcomes darkness and sin. Jesus is the light of the world.
During the Advent seasons of our lives, we work, pray and fast to prepare for the birth of Jesus in our lives. When we are ready and restored, Jesus takes over and is born in us: Christmas. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). The joy of the birth of Jesus, however, does not end here. We are called to show this mystery to others: Epiphany.
The Spirit of the Season:
This diagram shows the process that repeats itself in our lives. Reflection on the significance of the Christmas of Season makes Jesus present now. He desires to be made manifest in us. We, in turn, are asked to be awake so that we can hear his calling. Pope Benedict XVI once taught that “to wake up means to leave that private world of one’s own…and to develop a receptivity for God.” Self-awareness leads to an awakening of spirit so that we can be aware of where God is calling us to be and to learn.