Have you ever wondered about the reason that started this tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas? If we believe, we will attribute it to the wise men who came to pay homage bearing gifts to the infant born on that first Christmas night. Alternatively we can attribute it to a tradition from Roman times.
But whichever our reasons, we all share one thing in common in that we bear gifts to loved ones and those special to us. Our gifts express our affection and love. Beneath the wrapper, we hope that it brings happiness and joy.
We sometimes get into a frenzy of deciding what gifts to buy, the list of gifts having expanded from the three of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Worse, we have accumulated a list of people we feel obliged to give, for perhaps other reasons, rather than because of true love and affection. These days we search for electronic gadgets that will hopefully contain our gigabytes of love and communicate our affection.
We have increasingly become the Christmas wrapper, colourful and beautiful. But paper thin. We care more about what people would think of us; keen to elevate ourselves amongst them. We have become eager for glory, and hungry to hear praises for self. The ways of this world have shifted us, gradually but seismically. ‘Looking good’ and ‘being good’ is a crater of difference, our image smartly camouflaging who we really are; the beautiful wrapper deceiving the intention of the gift.
Perhaps the one gift we can reflectively unwrap this Christmas is the gift of life, this great gift of our self and who we truly are. Beneath our image of the Christmas wrapper is a person who “would have no ambition but to do good” (midnight mass readings). This Christmas “a great light has shone”. A light that shines into the dark shadows of our inner self affirming that whoever we are, we are truly loved by Him. And that ‘being good, and doing good’ is the better way to true happiness, joy and peace.
Today is Christmas, with the message that we ourselves are the greatest gift, the best possible Christmas present to others.
It is through who we are and what we do that gigabytes of true love and affection flows. It can be as small as a smile, or as gentle as a helping hand that we bring the pure intention of Christmas to others; of the infant being born to bring peace unto us and goodwill to all mankind. We are encouraged not to wrap ourselves in selfish isolation but to unwrap ourselves and be a kind presence in the lives of others around us. When we tear away the paper thin wrapper, we find a beautiful life that will twinkle like the Christmas lights every time we do good with it.
It is only through what we do with love that we will hear echoes of praise and glory in our lives. In every good deed and thought, the angel and the heavenly host will sing “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”. Beneath the swaddling clothes lies an infant born to be the source of this Love, peace and goodwill.
We are the shepherds on that first Christmas night given the gift of the message that life can change for us if we strip off the Christmas wrapper and BE the gift. For WE are the best Christmas gifts to one another. We are messengers of goodwill bearing gifts of love, peace, happiness and joy.
Christmas, Midnight Mass