Advent and Christmas: A moment of Grace and Redemption
”Christmas is a period of restoration of
mankind to the state of Grace which
facilitates the spiritual and physiological
wellbeing which suggests a holistic
wellbeing of a human being”
Christmas is usually preceded by a season of anticipation of Christ’s birth; the Advent season. It is only in the shadow of Advent that the miracle of Christmas can be fully understood and appreciated, and it is only in the light of Christmas that the Christian life makes any sense. The first two Sundays during Advent (through December 16th) usually look forward to Christ’s second coming, which means that we are preparing to share the glory of God in the life eternal.
The last two Sundays (December 17th – 24th) look backward to remember Christ’s first coming. It reminds us that when Jesus was born, God became man/woman and dwelt among the human family. This season serves as a time that we embrace Jesus Christ in our lives and families. A time that Christ continues to enlighten the world and perfect our relationships with God and with one another. We use this period to ask for God’s total guidance of our lives so that we can always live a meaningful and purposeful life according to His will. Christmas is a season to acknowledge how God shares his love and goodness with us and how we should also genuinely share the same love with one another especially with the unfortunate members of our society.
The Advent is the acceptable time spoken of by the Spirit, a season of salvation, peace, and reconciliation with God and with our fellow brothers and sisters. Just as the Church has always celebrated this season with special solemnity, let us too observe it with faith and love, offering praise and thanksgiving to the Father for the mercy and love he has shown us in this mystery. In every particular year, our mother Church recalls this mystery and urges us to renew the memory of the great love God has shown us. This holy season teaches us that Christ’s coming was not only for the benefit of his contemporaries; his power and grace is willingly communicated to us all, the power that we share with Him through our holy faith and the sacraments whenever we seek it with obedience in Christ.
The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again. When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts, bringing with him the riches of his grace (cf: Romans 13:11-14, Isaiah 7:10-14, Jeremiah 33:14-16) Christmas is a period of restoration of mankind to the state of Grace which facilitates the spiritual and physiological wellbeing which suggests a holistic wellbeing of a human being. The Catholic Church, in her concern for our salvation, uses this holy season to teach us through hymns, canticles and other forms of expression, of voice or ritual, used by the Holy Spirit.
The church shows us how grateful we should be for so great a blessing, and how to gain its benefit and our hearts should be as much prepared for the coming of Christ. (cf: from a pastoral letter by Saint Charles Borromeo, bishop: Acta Ecclesiae Mediolanensis, t.2, Lugduni, 1683, 916-917) Those that prepared for Christmas by reflecting on the Advent season and acknowledging that Jesus Christ is the reason for the season (Advent and Christmas) are presented with a deeper spiritual understanding of a historical and existential salvific event to restore mankind to its actual dignity and to a state of Grace which facilitates the spiritual and physiological wellbeing. It is more of a spiritual than a material event primarily celebrated every 25th Day of December of every year to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the savior of humanity.
It is one particular occasion when Christians experience the real knowledge of Christ and a divine intervention through which we are presented with an opportunity to experience Him, not with mortal eyes, but by spiritual sight as set forth in revelation, as apprehended by faith; so as to know, love, and trust in Him as the Messiah. Christmas also signifies the coming of God’s kingdom through the humble birth of Jesus Christ into the world as the salvation of the whole human race. It reminds the world that the Church as the body of Christ is the universal sacrament of salvation bringing into realization and operation the mystery of God’s love for the human family.
The essence of Jesus’ divine nature that underscores the truths and profoundly make Christmas wonderful is evident in one passage, written by the Apostle Paul, Colossians 1:15-20 says, ‘‘He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross’’. This, therefore, signifies the great value of the birth of Christ to the life of Christians. Jesus’ nativity was meant to bring forth grace to the world so that all those who believe in Him shall gain and enjoy the everlasting grace.
Through His birth, human beings were once again presented with an opportunity to reconcile with God, whom they had forsaken through their sinful lives. Celebrating Christmas as a family and keeping Christ as the Center of the celebration implies our appreciation of the revelation of the birth of our savior among us and hope in gracious life. Truly, we have heard with our own ears, seen with our own eyes and experienced with our senses the holistic salvation that comes with the birth of Jesus Christ and consequently a justification for our celebration during the Christmas day because we now know and feel that through Jesus’ birth we are saved of our sins. Celebrating a sinless, spotless, pure Savior. He is the light come into a dark and dying world. Also, those who receive Jesus Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.
Fellow Christians, let the personal and experiential knowledge of Christ through His birth (Christmas) bring grace and joy and get incarnated into Him and have Christ at the center of our entire life as individuals, family and the entire human race. As disciplines of Christ may you help your fellow human beings to understand and experience the true meaning of Advent and Christmas not just as a worldly festivity but as a time to obtain the divine Grace and Redemption embodied in it. I encourage every Christian to identify only one person who is suffering and make him or her experience God’s love and presence. Christmas is all about sharing in order to ensure that humanity is enjoying God’s love and presence among us.