Christmas is a particularly special time for me. My birthday is on Christmas Day. As my faith developed I came to the realization that even though my birthday lands on Christmas, that there’s something much more significant. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) That is the realism we assist at in every Mass. The fact the Christ took on a human form, and we see His physical presence at every Mass under the veil of the Eucharist.
Christmas is not merely a jovial holiday, it is a holy day. The Nativity of our Lord is one of the holiest days we celebrate in the liturgical calendar.
The God of the universe took on human form and became one of us, yet He has two natures, fully human and fully divine. Christ took on human flesh to be the once and for all perfect sacrifice on our behalf, to save us from our sins, and to lay the foundation for the earthly Kingdom, the Church, as the cornerstone.
The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” (CCC 1324) Without the Nativity of our Lord there is no Eucharistic sacrifice. No foretaste of Heaven to prepare us for the banquet that awaits those who are in friendship with God (e.g. in the state of grace). The Eucharist is so important to Catholics that our intellects cannot fathom what life would be like without it. We as Catholics thrive on the graces received from the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist.
“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” –C.S. Lewis
At Christmas we receive Eucharistic overtones. Christ, the Living Bread from Heaven, was born in a town called Bethlehem, in Hebrew means “House of Bread,” and He was born in a manger, which is a feeding trough that animals eat from. These are foreshadows or antitypes of what would take place at the Last Supper with the institution of the Eucharist. Through Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection, He prepares us for the realism of what we’ll receive in Heaven, and we have a foretaste of that when we consume the Eucharist at Mass.
There are two times of the year where we should intensely focus our senses on the Eucharist: Christmas and Easter. Christmas because that is when the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. At Easter, specifically the Triduum, the Eucharist was instituted at the Last Supper.
Prior to receiving Holy Communion at Mass we say, Domine non sum dignus, or Lord I am not worthy. We are not worthy, but God in His self-sacrificial love (Greek: agape) invites us to participate in the Eucharistic feast. The Eucharist being the perfect thanksgiving sacrifice worthy of God the Father. It would not be at all possible unless the Word had become Flesh, born on Christmas Day. There are some that may argue that Christ was not literally born on December 25, but the Church has celebrated the Nativity of our Lord on this day since the early ages of Christianity. It is one of the earliest feasts along with the Epiphany.
How splendid it is to lift up our hearts at a momentous time of the year. Christ offers us a super-substantial (Greek: epiousios) treasure in the Eucharist at Mass. A supernatural gift it is indeed. It’s important to remember the real meaning of Christmas. All the presents in the world cannot stack up to what we receive in the Liturgy. Christ’s Mass, or Christmas, is the beginning to an epic journey that reveals the truth of how much God loves us and wants us to be part of His family. Not only at Christmas, but every day of the year. The true meaning of Christmas is centered around Christ in the Eucharist.
“Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.” –Luke 2:14
by John Connor