By Rev DANIEL A. LORD S.J.
Beyond all else Christmas means children.
And beyond all children Christmas means especially one Child.
Even the sad pagans of a modern day, who have rudely excluded that Divine Child from Christmas, have, because of Him, kept the day sacred to children.
Where the Christ Child is loved for Himself and is seen in the little children, who are beautifully like Him, Christmas is the day, beyond all other days, when love moves over the earth with lighted tapers, and the virtues of childhood make young once more a weary, aging humanity.
Even where the Christ Child is forgotten or ignored, His little ones for a single day waken in human hearts a new tenderness and unselfish affection. And the innocence of childhood, its unquenchable faith in the goodness of others, curve into smiles even the cynical lips that have drunk deep of sin and grown bitter in sneers.
For Christmas begins and ends with a Child. About the Infant in the manger prophecies are fulfilled, and angels sing, and the poor kneel giftless save for the unpurchasable gift of patient affection, and the rich come gilt-laden, but with a strange humility bringing low their heads, and all mankind is reborn to a new era of grace and hope and God’s revelation of love and graciousness.
“A Child is born to us and a Son is given to us,” cried Isaiah in ecstatic prophecy. In a vision he saw this Child, born of a Virgin, in God’s beautiful promise and sign, and his heart burst forth in the first glad Christmas greeting, “A child is born to us and a son is given to us.” And from that joyful prophecy flowed all the joy and peace and Christmas spirit that coursed hopefully through the Old Law unto glorious fulfillment in the New.
Over the heads of the patiently watchful shepherds the glory of a star ripped the satin curtains of night. Then angel hands thrust back the torn shreds of gold and purple sky, and the uncontrollable joy of heaven itself leaped forth to sing of a Child.
“Glory to God in the highest,” because of that Child. “And on earth peace to men of good will,” who from that moment would find themselves kneeling in complete happiness beside that Golden Babe.
Startled, the shepherds looked up at the splendor flung unexpectedly into their drab lives. True peasants, they noted with instinctive relief that their lambs upon the hillside grazed unafraid either of the star, the angel messengers, or the swelling chorus. How could these lambs of the poor (later the favorite subject of the Savior’s parables) be flung into confusion by news that the Lamb of God had come to shepherd all His sheep?
“Today is born to you a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” Their slow minds were not too dull to realize that tonight their beloved Scriptures were fulfilled. This was the expected King of whom the angels sang. Startling as were the signs by which they were to recognize Him, swaddling clothes and a manger, they broke into headlong flight down the hill and flung themselves in adoration before the Child held up to them by the sweetest mother in all human history.
The childlike faith and hope of simple peasants found fulfillment in a Child. Christmas came rushing into their eventless lives on the wings of an infant’s smile, and the low-voiced gratitude of a mother welcoming these first Christmas guests who, in a beautiful single gesture, adored her Son and filled her day with the sweet fragrance of their Christmas greeting.
“O Divine Word, who became a Child for love of me, teach me to become a child for love of You.”” -Divine Intimacy