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While the Christmas Season has been called in song “the most wonderful time of the year” for many of us, especially these days, it can feel like anything but that!
TV and the internet are both full of ads in the run-up to Christmas with happy people showering each other with all sorts of goodies and Christmas, or (perhaps more accurately in these woke times), Holiday cheer. As such it’s very easy to feel isolated or depressed, as it looks like everyone is having a great time except you!
Although companies traditionally look to this season to bolster their bottom lines, this year people’s budgets are being hit hard from the ravages of inflation. It's getting more and more difficult to put food on the table, gas in your car and a roof over your head, much less getting presents for your loved ones. Feeling overwhelmed by all this? You're by no means alone!
Keep in mind in the midst of all the holiday hubbub something critically important: you are not only as good as what and how much you own! Your worth in God’s eyes is not about big houses or fat bank accounts or corner offices and such things.
Being well-off isn’t intrinsically evil, of course. We read in scripture for example how Joseph of Arithmathea, a wealthy man, supplied a tomb for Jesus after our Lord’s crucifixion (Matthew 27:57-60). Remember however that while good fortune can be a blessing, when it’s acquired illegally or otherwise unethically such wealth can easily become a curse instead in a manner inimical to one’s salvation!
That’s what makes the time of Advent preceding Christmas such an important time to remember “the reason for the season” our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as you might well have heard Him referred to. His life among us was filled with hardships and even loneliness and rejection as well as those moments of triumph.
The truly blessed event of His birth took place not in a mansion, not in the Jerusalem temple certainly, not even in an inn but rather in a cave amongst animals!
As our Blessed Mother told Ven. Mary of Agreda, a Spanish nun in the 17th century, in one of many Church approved private revelations chronicled in the voluminous work The Mystical City of God, “Who would be so hardened as not to be moved to tenderness at the sight of their God become man, humiliated in poverty, despised, unknown, entering the world in a cave, lying on a manger surrounded by brute animals, protected only by a poverty-stricken Mother, and cast off by the foolish arrogance of the world? Who will dare to love the vanity and pride which was openly scorned and condemned by the Creator of Heaven and earth in His actions?”
And yet Christ's biggest triumph came at the ignominious end of His earthly ministry on the cross at Calvary when he conquered death as He took His last breath for our salvation.
Just as Jesus emptied Himself taking the form of a slave to be exalted (Phil 2:6-11) so too He urged us in the Gospels to humble ourselves as well, in imitation of Him.
Never forget, especiallu not now, that He not only would have died just for you and your salvation but that He would have been born just for you as well. That’s how much he’s loved us, collectively and individually, for over 2000 years now!
While we should keep in mind that acquiring riches may not in itself be a sin, worshiping them is! As Jesus said famously in the Sermon on the Mount “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt 6:24).
Think in this regard of the parable of the Rich Fool, (Luke 12:16-21) who received a famous rebuke from God about what good would it do for him to have stored up surplus grain for his own pleasure when he was to die that night. And then there’s the rich young man who sadly declined Jesus’ invitation to give up everything and follow Him because, after all, he had many possessions (Matt 19:16-20).
Do you own your stuff or does it own you? And does your own self worth consist of how much you can impress others, or buy their supposed "friendship" through money or prestigious favors?
In these troubling times, it’s all too easy to feel like you’re just running in place much less getting ahead in providing for your family. It’s all too easy to feel like a failure if you can’t keep up with the illusory world on TV and the internet filled with supposedly fabulous people living allegedly awesome lives!
Just remember that you were made in the image and likeness of God and yes he does care and wants to be with you in good times or bad. Give your anxieties and sufferings to our Lord on the Cross at Calvary that they may have salvific merit in any case.
And what better gift can you give the Christ Child than your love, trust, prayers, perseverance, along with equanimity in trials? And in return, His birth for our salvation reminds us that each and every one of us is special in His sight!