Of course we made it. Time presses on whether we like it or not, so Christmas now replaces Advent in the Liturgical Year. The anticipation we felt in the previous four weeks is now replaced by a season of total wonder and love, with many facets for us to explore in our spiritual life.
God Seen by Men
During this Christmas Season, it is the hope that in our hearts this Child, Who is God now seen by men, will draw us to the love of the things that are unseen. As we exchange greetings and gifts among ourselves, we should keep in our hearts and minds that beautiful gift God Himself has given us in His Son, Who is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and our means of redemption.
His Birth Alters the World
Truly, the Birth of Christ changes the world. Many consider the season as a celebration of mothers and motherhood. It is difficult for us in our times to believe how women in ancient times had no rights or destiny except through men. Barely above a slave, women in these times were persecuted and degraded among the pagans. As God, He could have come into the world in any number of ways, yet God Incarnate elevates the dignity of women through His Mother - choosing a woman as His way into the world. We owe her gratitude, veneration and respect.
The season is also one of children. Christ's birth elevated the dignity of children as well simply because He chose to come to us as a helpless baby. Pagan rituals frequently used children as sacrifices, and those who escaped this fate were treated no better than women. The dignity and worth of children therefore increased at the Nativity of Our Lord.
With all the events that transpire during this time, it is interesting to note that Christmas is one of the shortest Liturgical Seasons in the year. Indeed, it lasts about 12 days, until January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany. The Liturgy during these days is filled with images of joyous harmony between heaven and earth. It chronicles the early life of Christ. The Feast of the Holy Innocents falls during this time; the Gospels recount not only the Birth of Our Lord, but also the shepherds' visit to the manger, and the Presentation in the Temple. It is entirely fitting, then, that the month, dedicated to the Holy Infancy, ends with these celebrations.
Both the spiritual and temporal preparations we put in place during Advent carry over to this short Christmas Season, making it one of profound joy. It is with hope, then, that we make the most of graces offered as we close out December and carry this feeling into January.