Here we are, concluding the Octave or ‘eight days’ of Christmas which began on Dec. 25th, with the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus, with a celebration on January 1st – the celebration of Mary Mother of God.
Our society immediately moved along from the celebration of Jesus’ birth as soon as the 25th was over – Christmas music was no longer heard on radio stations on the 26th at 1:00 am, stores began removing their displays – even people who went to great lengths to decorate their lawns and houses dismantled all of the lights and decorations, as if the season itself was no longer relevant.
But as Church, we continue to celebrate that great mystery of our faith, of God entering into our humanity as one of us; entering our reality as any of us would – being born of a woman. He comes as one of us, so that we can become like Him. That is the depth and greatness of His love for us; the Almighty sets aside His grandeur to become like us in meekness and humility. We continue to celebrate that as a people of faith throughout the week, and we end the Octave acknowledging the role that Mary, in her faith and obedience, plays in this most incredible gift to us all. We celebrate that Mary did not simply give birth to another human being; in this feast we acknowledge by honouring Mary with the title ‘Mother of God’, who we truly believe Jesus to be – fully human and fully Divine.
It is as if, in a sense, the Church uses this liturgical celebration of the week as a warm embrace; one arm being the Feast of the Nativity, and the other the Feast of Mary Mother of God, surrounding all of her children in an embrace of love, joy and celebration. It is a bit tragic that our society denies itself this embrace, rushing headlong into a frenzy of buying and feasting and abruptly ending the celebration to go back to ‘business as usual’. Perhaps this is, at least culturally, one reason why we seem to lose the sense of ‘peace on earth’ so quickly after Christmas Day.
Participation in this feast reminds us that our joy at Our Saviour’s birth is not something that happens for one day, once a year, but continues with us so long as we observe and celebrate it – and not just because, for us, this is a holy day of obligation. Of course, Christmas season for the Church doesn’t end today – it continues through the feast of the Epiphany – so while we may be tempted to remove the decorations, the lights and music, as a people of faith let’s not surrender to the rush to ‘put Christmas away’. Let’s continue to gather in the warmth of that embrace of the Season of Christmas, as we share that warmth and embrace with all whom we encounter in the coming days.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!