Christmas Reflection 2013

posted on December 23, 2013

In the following passage, Fr. George Winzenburg, Red Cloud’s president, reflects on the importance of sharing messages of love, peace and hope not just on Christmas Day, but throughout the year.

In our part of the country, Christmas Eve is often close to being picture-perfect: a cold temperature, lightly falling snow, walking into church and discovering the red and yellow poinsettias, the trees, and the array of colored lights.  There is something inviting and peaceful about the moment.  In all of us, a desire for God stirs in our heart.  We may say to ourselves: I want peace; I can be a peacemaker; I will work for peace in the world. 

After retiring late, my waking up on Christmas morning goes something like this.  I look around my room and see books all over the floor, clothes hanging every which way, and presents piled up in a corner.  It looks as if a tsunami has passed by.  I ask myself, “If the birth of Jesus has brought order to the world, what happened to me and my room?”

The reality of any profound experience is what we call “the day after.”  As much as we get caught up in a spiritual event, the sun rises the next day and we ask:  Was that real?  Is that all there is?  What comes next?  We Christians proclaim that God has entered the world; the Son of God was born as Jesus, who assumed our human condition in all things but sin; we have reason to hope.  The healing of our body, mind and spirit, and of our world, is possible because of his love.  Jesus believes in us; he accompanies us; he leads us as we speak his words and do his deeds.  We must say “yes” to his love every day.

In the late 1980s I celebrated Christmas Eve Mass with some relatives.  One was my cousin’s daughter, a girl about 6 years old.  To help her learn the story of Jesus’ birth, I went to a tabletop crib set and asked her to identify the figurines.  I picked up a lamb and said, “What’s this?”  A lamb, she said.  I picked up another and asked her about it.  She said, “That’s a shepherd.”  (She was doing well; I have smart relatives.)  I then picked up “Joseph” and asked, “Who’s this?”  She said, “George Bush.”  We all laughed.  How she knew that George Bush, Sr. was president or why she imagined him in the crib scene, who knows?  The lesson I took away was that I too often confine Jesus to the crib.  God invites us to take the message of Christmas and apply it to our lives and real events in the world.  Let’s not wait for others to take the lead.  Testify to the light and bring peace.  Spreading the Good News is our responsibility, and also our privilege and our call.

Christmas morning’s Gospel tells us that after the angels announced the Savior was born in Bethlehem, the shepherds left their sheep in the fields and hastened to see him.  They found Joseph and Mary and the infant lying in a manger.  They immediately told others about Jesus’ birth and that it fulfilled God’s promise.  Those who heard were amazed.  The message was spread.  Their word would reach the ends of the earth.

The shepherds, despite their smallness, approached Jesus as they were.  They trusted that God would take them as they came -- smelling like sheep, as Pope Francis reminds us.  We are like the shepherds, ordinary folks who can feel unworthy and insignificant.  As we reflect on the mystery of God entering our world and his unconditional love, let’s ask ourselves: Who leads me to Jesus?  Do I have the courage to approach the Lord and trust that he will love me as I am?  Will I be a peacemaker?  Yes, what comes the day after we celebrate the birth of Jesus is real.  Christ remains with us.  Now is the time to live what we experienced.  Let us go out and spread the Word and be a light to the world.

I assure all of you in the Red Cloud family of my prayers at Christmas.

All Content ©Red Cloud Indian School, 2013