The Nativity of Our Lord (Christmas)


By Fr. Chris Valka, CSB

Every year, one of my Christmas traditions is to watch, “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown”. It doesn’t matter that I have seen it so many times I could recite almost the entire cartoon word-for-word, I still watch it because it simply isn’t Christmas without it.

A few years ago, I heard that, originally, the producers of the cartoon were going to remove Linus’ explanation to the meaning of Christmas because they were worried about being too preachy or offensive.

After all, this is the question that so many people ask me these days. They will say, isn’t it time we move past religion? Do you really think prayer makes a difference? Mass can be so boring – and I can connect with the spiritual realm in so many other ways.

And in fact, sometimes I do wonder. .

But then again, I cannot imagine December without Christmas anymore than I can imagine Charlie Brown without Linus.

Of course, scholars have longed argued about what really happened on that sacred night when Our Saviour was born, but those details don’t get at the real issue: belief is how we are saved from ourselves. This rather impossible story we celebrate at Christmas time is another way that God reminds us that we don’t know near as much as we would like to think we do – that we are not our own saviours.

Children are great about this fact. So many of the things we need saving from are resolved in their presence. In them there is no greed, no thirst for power, no envy, no lust, no addiction.

All of the sudden, God’s plan to save the world doesn’t seem so crazy after all. Jesus reminds us that while our children may at times, cause us to lose our sanity and certainly many hours of sleep and a fair amount of money – they will indeed save us and remind us what is truly important.

They remind us to forgive, to keep things simple, to pay attention to one another; that being dependent on others is not a bad thing; that we don’t have all the answers, that we are loved for who we are long before what we do; not to judge; to affirm one’s potential long before their brokenness; to ask questions; and the list could go on.

Ultimately, they remind us that we cannot save ourselves. And with that, I wish you the merriest of Christmases and thank you celebrating it with us.