Some years ago I addressed this subject, but thought I would like to revisit it and extend it.
We hear about remembering the “Reason for the Season” from two sources. The secular source has an answer for this question on every made for TV movie pretty much shown for the next 23 days. The message is that family matters and that we should stop and smell the roses and remember what is important. Well as a message it is certainly a good one in that it has large aspects of the truth in it. Though this answer is also missing something. G.K. Chesterton once quipped about his friend George Bernard Shaw that he was like Venus de Milo in that “all there is of him is admirable.” The secular view of Christmas which I held to most of my life is nice and cozy, filled with plenty of traditions, and strong on family. Though the modern “holiday” movie seem to be geared more towards broken families.
The other “reason for the season” message of course comes from Christians in that Christ is the reason. This might seem like a no brainer emphasis, but it is one more and more lost in the materialism and confusion of the Christmas season. Family is important and the Holy Family is even more important. Christ did not become a child so that we could have warm thoughts about each other in a non-specified holiday season. Christ did not become fully man to vacation among us. Some theologians have speculated that the Incarnation would still have happened even if Adam and Eve had not fallen. Speculative theology aside it is a moot point. So why did the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity who through the Trinity created all matter and all that matters. Here is an answer we will not find looking through telescopes, microscopes, or careful observance material things. Though it is something we can find looking in at ourselves. Simply the reason for season is sin. Christ came to us wrapped in swaddling clothes to hive us more than beautiful cards and Nativity sets, but to rescue us from our sin. Jesus became fully man in everything but sin to save us from our sins. Looking for the reason for the season and we don’t have to look very hard to find our own sins. We don’t want sack cloths and ashes, but beautiful presents wrapped with large bows. But the most beautiful present we ever received was wrapped without a bow, but with swaddling clothes. Simeon rejoiced at seeing Jesus, but he also knew that he would have to pass on a cross or really a heart piercing sword to Mary. There is so much to reflect on in the inexhaustible mystery of the Incarnation. A skeptic would call it something too good to be true, but really only Jesus being perfect goodness could also be perfectly true. Goodness and truth go together and it is only in a fallen world where we divide it up into partial goods and partial truths. Jesus once asked “why do you call me good” to elicit a response of faith in that he was the “Way, the Truth, and the Light.’ The Incarnation is love demonstrated to a degree that we can hardly fathom. A love that had an earthly ending on the cross, but extended through time and also extended to each and every one of us. Though like all gifts, the gift of faith can be returned or exchanged for a lesser trinket.
Sometimes praying the Rosary and especially the “Agony in the Garden” I see Jesus across time sweating blood thinking about my sins and the sins of the world. Though I see much of his anguish being directed towards those who die in their sins and don’t apply the merits of his sacrifice for their redemption. I certainly hope to die in a state of grace and that my main concern about the population of Hell is not increasing the population by one. The reality is that sin is with us and very much the reason for the season. We can also give a gift back to God by not committing sin and trying to make sin less the reason for the season and the reason more for gratitude of the grace he has given us by entering the world as a baby in the most humble of conditions.