At a parish where I was stationed years ago,* while I was still a seminarian, at Christmas-Eve Mass, right after Holy Communion, the lights in church would go down. Then Santa Clause himself would enter the church, from the main doors. He would walk silently down the aisle. Then he would kneel down in front of the manger with the baby Jesus. Santa would pray silently for a while. Then he would disappear.
We love Santa because he is kindly, and he is fair-minded. He has the qualities of a saint—after all, he is a saint, Saint…
Santa, like all saints, knows the truth, that the Lord Jesus is the Son of God and our Savior.
…At the first Christmas, in Bethlehem, plenty of people saw the baby Jesus and thought nothing of it.
‘Look, there’s a poor couple from Nazareth, with a newborn baby, here for the imperial census.’ ‘Poor woman, having to give birth so far from home. But there’s another mouth to feed in this impoverished country!’ Etc.
For all these people, Christmas was no holiday, no day for prayer and solemn rejoicing. December 25 was just another day for the hard realities of life.
But then there were the few people who knew the truth about this particular baby. That He is God made man, sent to earth so that we could hope for eternal life in heaven. Mary and Joseph, the shepherds who had seen the angels, and the wise men who had followed the mysterious star. With indescribable quiet joy, they worshiped the Savior, the King, the baby who is our Lord and God.
May God give us the grace to celebrate Christmas like them–quietly, prayerfully, and happily.
* St. John the Evangelist, Silver Spring, Maryland! (Where they just lost their pastor to cancer. I owe good Father Pennington an immeasurable debt for how much he helped me when I was a seminarian. May he rest in peace.)