I Proclaim to You Glad Tidings of Great Joy: Today in the City of David a Savior has been Born for You!
Merry Christmas! Jesus has the perfect gift for all of us – Himself. Will you accept it?
It is a common problem: you want to give something special, something just right, but what do you give to the person who already seems to have everything?
Eventually though, the answer presents itself to believers and nonbelievers alike, and there is still time to give it today and every day: you give them the gift they cannot buy for themselves, that which they cannot even obtain unless it is given to them. You give them the gift of self, the gift of love. Love is something that must be given – it cannot be taken and it is not automatic, the gift of self in love is a choice and it must be freely bestowed.
The gift of love is the best gift to give and to receive, and for it to be perfect, it must be the most perfect of loves, the love of God. On this Christmas Day, the Lord makes a gift of Himself to us, and to help us see that He comes not to overpower us, but as a gift, a gift of love, the Almighty comes to us as a newborn baby and in a family. He presents us with this gift of His love so that we might rejoice in it and share it with others as a family, just as Mary and Joseph shared the infant Jesus with the shepherds.
Jesus, who is Emmanuel, God-with-us, comes as a little baby in poverty and need of help. The gift that He asks for in return is our love and our gift of love to others, helping Him in the work of salvation.
Both those who are faithful and those strongly influenced by secular materialism often come to realize that material things ultimately leave them unfulfilled, and that the best present is the gift of love. The need and desire for love is inherent in the nature of the human person. Everyone wants to be loved and wanted. We thrive on love, and when we do not have it or give it, our lives wither.
One of our challenges in the New Evangelization is to help people to see the connection between the love they naturally seek and the Lord. God is Love, but so many people fail to see this – the many past messages of faith have been crowded out by the messages of an aggressive secularism, materialism, and individualism, such that many erroneously believe God and His Church have little to say to them today. Even many previously catechized Catholics believe this and so they have left their faith behind.
Thus, we need to re-propose to them the truth: that Jesus Christ is the answer, that the gift they really need, the true and undying love they seek in their restless hearts, can be found in Him, in the little child of Bethlehem, as discovered by St. Augustine, who had himself been a fairly worldly man until his conversion. Helping others to see this connection between love and the Baby born in the stable, that God is Love and the Church is the instrument of His love, is key to succeeding in overcoming the many misconceptions and misunderstandings that people have about God, the Church, and the Catholic faith.
Love is the transcendent common language of mankind, it is how we can reach the fallen away and the non-believer. There is nothing more powerful than love – it was through the power of love that the universe was created and death was defeated, so it will be by and through love that people will be transformed. Even the secular materialist knows that love is the most important thing in life – it is life – but they keep going down the wrong roads to find it. We need to help them find the right road.
Christmas is an ideal moment for evangelization. In Jesus, instead of fleeting worldly “riches,” all of which will one day be reduced to dust, we can receive the blessings of an entire kingdom, a kingdom of eternal life and love and a spiritual home, the Church. Although we may have already bought various gifts to place under the tree, it is not too late to give the most perfect and everlasting gift that one can give, the gift of the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we go to Mass we can take others with us – to go see Jesus in person and to receive Him, either in the Eucharist or spiritually. For our brother and sister Catholics who have left, we can ask them to come home, and for non-Catholics, we can invite them to join the family gathered around Mary and Joseph and the Babe lying in the manger.