“We wish for the light of Christ to be in us. A Christmas without light is not Christmas. Let there be light in the soul, in the heart; let there be forgiveness to others; Christmas is a great opportunity to cleanse the soul... because God forgives everything. Let light be in your hearts.”
These were the words of Pope Francis in December of 2014
when he turned on the world’s tallest Christmas tree in Gubbio, Italy. Just the thought of Pope Francis lighting the tallest Christmas tree in the world is a visual that one can only imagine. It is heartwarming to think how the
Vicar of Christ and our spiritual leader wished to participate in this age-old Christian tradition.
Today, the Christmas tree can be seen as a symbol of the peace that Jesus brought to mankind. Because it is evergreen, it is the symbol of that immortality which Jesus said he possessed and would bring to us: The tree lit by little lights is the symbol of the light that Jesus brought to the world with his birth: "He was the light that shines in the darkness... and enlightens every man..." (cf. Jn 1:4-14). And finally, the fir tree, with its tip pointing to heaven, indicates God's presence to us and the place where we are all awaited.
The sight of prepared Christmas trees is a sure sign that December has arrived. The malls are already filled with shoppers – computer sites were crashing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday from the overflow of potential shoppers. People buy gifts for their loved ones, for acquaintances, for people who have done favors for them, for work peers, for their postman, their doctor, their dentist, their accountant and pretty much anyone who they feel they must acknowledge.
The irony of spending millions of dollars to celebrate a King who was born in a manger shows such a dichotomy – here we have a family who had nothing but the clothes on their back and a donkey for transportation, but gave us the greatest gift of all – God’s merciful love and the promise of eternal life. There is nothing that can compare with the gift that God the Father gave to us at Christmas. Although this tradition of gift giving is important, the person who really must be acknowledged is Jesus -the greatest Christmas present we could ever possibly receive is the same one that Mary and Joseph received – the gift of the Son of God in their midst.
During this season of Advent, and the pre-Christmas commotion, let us always remember that Christ the Lord is the greatest gift that we receive and the best present we can give to each other is that of ourselves, our time and friendship that manifests the same light of Christ that each one of us has within us. Christ always has time for us and therefore, we also bear the responsibility as baptized Catholics to make time, and “pay it forward” as indeed true representatives of Christ.
We must also remember, that unlike the Christmas tree with the twinkling lights that we keep in our homes for a short while, the light of Christ continues to shine far past the gifts and the festivities and so should the light within us endure.
A Blessed Christmas to all the Knights and Ladies of the Toronto Lieutenancy. May your Christmas be filled with happiness and peace.