“It came without presents. It came without tags. It came without ribbons, boxes or bags.”
--The Grinch, as he stood puzzling atop of Mount Krumpet
As this reflection is posted a mere half fortnight before Christmas, one presumes that our Order’s membership, our fellow parishioners and certainly our fellow travelers throughout the Christian world are pre-occupied with purchasing presents that have varying price tags and equally varied boxes and bags. But as the Grinch learned in a book written nearly a half-century ago, when he foolishly attempted to stop Christmas from coming by stealing literally every item of monetary or material value in the town of Whoville (and, one might add, committing serial felony burglary in the process), Christmas has a far deeper meaning and the world cannot stop Christmas from coming no matter how hard it tries.
As Dr. Suess’ children’s book, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas demonstrates, the complaint that modern society expends extraordinary amounts of money and energy attempting to ignore the true meaning of Christmas is not new. Christian clergy of all denominations have been decrying holiday materialism for generations. Our own Order pleads with culture to “Keep Christ in Christmas” rather than relegate the Second Person of the Trinity to a 5” x 7” greeting card or to a crèche on a side altar at Church.
One may ask why, in light of our culture’s best efforts to secularize Christmas, it continues to come each year in all its grandeur. The answer, one suggests, lies in the concept of “gift” that material society crudely mimics each holiday season. People give material gifts that ultimately break, corrode, are lost or simply wear out. But Christmas is a very different gift.
Mankind cannot stop Christmas from coming because the Incarnation—God freely choosing to reveal Himself to this world, to enter this world and to become human like us in all things but sin—is pure gift. Christmas is God’s gift to us, which necessarily makes it, with life itself, the greatest of all gifts. Christmas is the gift of God’s divine Son, who in his humanity grew to adulthood and died on the Cross in order to atone for our sins. That act of self-emptying love makes eternal life available for every human being.
Thus, Christmas is not only the greatest gift. It also is the perfect gift: the perfect God-man, out of perfect love, makes of himself a perfect self-sacrifice so that we may one day be perfected in Heaven. Christmas has, does and will continue to come because God’s offer of eternal life remains open until the end of human life. Perfect love is never withdrawn or conditionally extended. God always offers salvation, unconditionally, and no amount of holiday shopping, family or office parties or corporate concern with fourth quarter profits can stop God from extending that offer to each human being, individually.
That is why Christmas will always come, no matter what may be the predominant mores of an era. The only question is, what will our response to God’s offer be? Will it be acceptance, indifference or outright rejection? “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith upon the Earth?” Luke 18:8.
Bernard Smith, Grand Knight
December 15, 2011