Bishop Robert Barron

Speaking Out: A return to a simple Christmas

By  Paula Ducepec, Youth Speak News
  • December 2, 2020

As many Canadian provinces experience some version of a second lockdown, “normal Christmas is, quite frankly, out of the question,” as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told us during a Nov. 20 press conference.

Except for the presence of snow, the Perry Como Christmas classic “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” will not be applicable this time around. Store aisles won’t be filled with candy canes, silver lanes won’t fully glow, toys will remain a window decoration and the trees inside the malls won’t be truly admired.

This “normal Christmas” we speak of is the kind of Christmas that pulls us into stores and buying the most elaborate things. It is also the kind of Christmas where we expect to be in work gatherings and family dinners. There is nothing wrong with this — in fact, we often look forward to these things. But this day should not be reduced to a simple family celebration.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the term holiday originated from the old English term haligdaeg, meaning “holy day.” Traditionally, holidays were specific to the Christian liturgical calendar.Later on, the original meaning was weakened as holidays became associated with days off from work.

This year, the gust of the Holy Spirit is blowing us to celebrate Christmas simply and commemorate it as a holy day once again, not just a period of rest and shopping.

Christmas is not simply a time for gathering. Bishop Robert Barron even called this a problem in our time, the domestication of Christmas, because we miss something crucial. Bishop Barron calls Christmas a “subversive feast from a Christian standpoint” — it challenges our alliances between the worldly kingdom versus the heavenly kingdom. It challenges the idea of the true king: the one who wants and needs to be protected or the one who would give Himself up for us, to save us.

He continues: “The real king is the one placed in the manger — which is the spot where the animals came to eat. He becomes food for the world. That is meant to be in anticipation of Jesus’ whole life climaxing at the last supper when He said: ‘This is My body, this is My blood.’ I am food and drink for you.”

Even though throughout our history Christmas has been promoted as the time for families to gather, Christmas is a reminder for all of us that God has come down to live among us, to liberate us and bring us to Heaven. It is a reminder that our Saviour has gone to the world, into our history, to save all of us.

As explained by the late Bishop Fulton Sheen, the true meaning of Christmas is God is sent down to Earth to make us His children, to make us more than just human beings. He came to change our nature and elevate us into something more; more than beasts that roam the Earth. This is God’s gift to all of us.

As we prepare for the upcoming Christmas season, let us remember the core of what we really celebrate. Yes, Christmas will be different this year — family and social gatherings will be close to impossible and will be moved to more virtual gatherings, choosing and buying gifts will be a little more tricky, photographs in front of picturesque Christmas bazaars will not be taken — but Christmas is not cancelled.

Maybe we are simply forced to go into bare minimum and see what it really means.

(Ducepec, 22, is a recent Bachelor of Science graduate from the University of Toronto.)

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