As we inch our way closer to Christmas, it’s a good opportunity to take a moment to ponder the true meaning of the season. This year, you likely have less parties to attend, less cookies to bake, and less of the traditional holiday trappings in the days leading up to Christmas. It’s an opportunity to enter into the true meaning of Advent and Christmas – don’t let it pass you by!
Bishop Bill Wack, of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, stopped by Morning Air® to discuss the opportunity we have to slow down and be more intentional this year. He also offered a reflection on how the true meaning of Christmas should impact our life all year long.
Bishop Wack offered an example of how we can enter into the mystery of Christ’s birth by slowing down and really focusing on the meaning of our Advent and Christmas traditions.
He said, “Last night I was pulling out the little figures from the Nativity scene for underneath the tree, and I just found myself staring into the faces of these tiny figurines, Mary and Joseph in particular. The look of awe on their faces, the artist really did a great job with that. And just to hold the figurine of Mary or Joseph and think, “I want that awe. I want that wonder.’ That’s what Christmas brings to us.”
It’s no coincidence that the time of year we celebrate the Incarnation is filled with so many sights, sounds, smells, and sacred images. Christ became man, entering into our world and our humanity. During Advent and Christmas this year, allow the sights, sounds, and smells of the season to draw you into the beauty and wonder of Christ’s birth.
Bishop Wack told listeners, “One of the things my father said a lot was, “Bill, Christmas is for the eyes.’ Because I was always touching the figurines, or the tree, or something like that. But nonetheless, children are drawn into that. And that’s why St. Francis started the manger scenes in Assisi and in other parts of Italy. Because it draws us in.”
“We need that connection with the Incarnation,” he continued. “Something to make it very real for us, make it very present to us, and us present to it. I think I’m an eternal child because I’m always drawn to the Nativity scene, both in church and outside when people have it on their lawn, and here in my own house.”
As we celebrate Emmanuel, God with us, this season, let us also remember that Christ is not only with us at Christmas but also at every Mass and in all that we meet. Understanding the true meaning of Christmas means understanding that Christ came to us, and we are called to be Christ to others – not just at Christmas, but all year long.
“That’s really at the heart of our faith – we’re not just worshiping a God ‘out there,'” Bishop Wack said. “We pray that we become what we celebrate. We become Christ for others. When we go to Mass we pray that we are the Gospel for the world, we’re the Eucharist the real presence of Christ in the world. We become what we eat. This is not just something disconnected or that happened in history. It’s happening now.”
Offering a prayer to live out the Incarnation in our own lives, Bishop Wack prayed, “God, you call me to be more and more like your Son. I could never do that on my own, but with the Holy Spirit and with your help I can. Help me to be Christ’s light in the world. Help me to be your real presence, your Incarnation in the world, as your beloved son.”
Listen to the full reflection below: