The liturgical season of Christmas ends abruptly after the feast of Jesus’ baptism. We seem to fast forward from the birth of Christ to the beginning of Jesus’ public life. For some, the Church does not allow enough time to celebrate Christmas. Others are eager to return to “regular life.”
Before jumping into Ordinary Time, though, I like to pause and thank God for the blessings received during the Christmas season, especially during quiet moments spent at the stable: perhaps a gift of mercy and healing, of forgiveness and reconciliation, of a new challenge or direction in life.
Christ lives in our hearts and our world as fully now as he did when he walked our earth 2000 years ago. He experienced the joys of family life and friendship, the support of a community of faith, life’s simple pleasures. As we all know, life is often complicated and chaotic. We find ourselves paralyzed by anxiety, fearful of those we view as different; we panic in the face of uncertainty, lose sleep over those we love, find ourselves overwhelmed with anxiety as we watch dear ones decline. This is the stuff of life, and Jesus was no stranger to the human condition with its joys and sorrows.
In the Incarnation, God became so much one with humanity that Jesus could slip into our world unnoticed. In our day it is easy to miss Christ present in our midst because of barriers we have allowed. Our wholehearted celebration of Christmas gives us clearer vision—not bound by time, place, culture, race or ethnicity—to discover Christ anew in the persons and events we encounter.
As we begin a new year and a new liturgical season, we can trust the voice of God the Father who invites us to walk with Jesus, to experience the friendship of him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”