Click here to hear Cardinal Seán's 2013 Christmas Blessing.
Christmas is the center of our history. We calculate the date from Jesus' Birth 2013 years ago. For nonbelievers it is the year of the Common Era, but for us Catholics it must be unashamedly 2013 AD, anno Domini, the Year of the Lord. If we truly celebrate Christmas we will understand that God so loved the world that He sent us Jesus to be with us always, to be the Lord of History and the King of Hearts. Christmas is about God's love breaking into our world, a flash of light in a darkened sky.
The first Christmas carol was sung by the angels at Bethlehem and it is the basis of a prayer we often pray at Sunday Mass, the Gloria. Glory to God and peace on earth is the message. The two really go together. I f we do not give glory to God by loving and obeying Him, our human relationships are not going to be what they should and we will not have peace. The destroyer of peace is selfishness and sin. Jesus came to establish true peace based on our relationship with God and with each other. The first Christmas carol was a preview of Jesus' program for a good life.
Jesus' birth in a manger teaches something about what is truly important. The center is Christ. The center is a baby. The baby is surrounded by loving parents and not much else. The love of Mary and Joseph is the only treasure the Christ Child has. Being born in poverty and simplicity is God's way of speaking to us about what is truly important. As we celebrate Jesus' birth in the most humble of circumstances we are called to have compassion for the homeless, the poor, the sick and the suffering. God is calling us to share the gifts we have received with those in need. When we do that, we are giving gifts to the Christ Child Himself. May our celebration of Christmas be a time of recognizing that the greatest gift we have received is God's love for us and the greatest gift we can give is to share that love with others.