Every year we celebrate Christmas with so much fanfare in a period that concludes every year in a flourish and introduces a new year with an atmosphere of happy expectations that mollify or even completely set aside any unease that may be associated with the thoughts of possible difficulties that could be standing in wait in the next year. There is a special kind of peace experienced in that period and this is, perhaps because we re-enact the nativity of the Prince of Peace who gives Peace of Soul, a brand of peace only he gives, “Which passeth all understanding.” (Phil. 4:7). All peoples, irrespective of creed, experience this peace and celebrate in their own various ways according to their own understanding of the meaning of Christmas and how it should be celebrated. Many do not really attach any special meaning to Christmas other than it being a time for feasting, the why for the feasting being unimportant. Those who have some deeper understanding in the right direction appreciate the real meaning of the feast and the event’s eschatological importance.
The event’s eschatological importance is that it is the Nativity of The Christ, the great “I Am” (Jn. 8:58). The “I Am” that he is was also captured in the prophecy of his coming to earth which refers to him as Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14) meaning “God with us” and signifying the ever-pervading presence of the immanent God – permanently ever present. God referred to himself as “I Am” and “I Am that I Am” (Exodus 3:14) because God exists in eternity with no time, no space, ever in the present and everywhere. For the whole universe is but just one infinitesimal dot in God space-wise and time-wise. Jesus, as God, is the “I Am” the God that “is” (not “was” and not “will be”) with us. That underscores the mammoth importance of the event: God coming to birth as one of our kind through one of our kind. We know some of the attributes of the one born on Christmas day: “For a son has been born for us, a son has been given to us, and dominion has been laid on his shoulders; and this is the name he has been given, ‘Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace’” (Isaiah 9:5), and so we try to appreciate the enormity of the great mystery we celebrate.
We celebrate the nativity of The Christ by re-enactment not just by commemoration because the history in which we live in is in God’s eternity where all these things are happening immanently as they are happening transcendentally. This means that any day we celebrate Christmas Jesus is actually born that day in Bethlehem and everywhere and at the same time; he is born more than 2000 years ago on the present Christmas day and everywhere in creation and beyond. On further extrapolation it means that Jesus is born every day, every second and everywhere. We can begin to understand it when we subtract history from eternity. What is really important is to understand that instead of merely commemorating and regarding the event as having happened some years ago, we should rather relive the moment of the event, the import of it and the real environment and atmosphere around the event. Re-enactment is not only for Nativity of The Christ but also for other very important events, especially in Salvation history. For instance we Catholics re-enact the Calvary event at every Holy Mass; this means that that event of Calvary is happening live at Mass during which we share and eat the flesh and drink the blood of the victim of the sacrifice offered for us at Calvary – the real body and the real blood of he that was slain for our sin, and for the new and everlasting covenant. “Real” because it is a re-enactment we are doing, it is Calvary and it is that day and hour in real terms right there at Holy Mass today. Before you begin to wonder wildly, know that it was Jesus himself who ordered us to do this and to do it through him, with him and in him (Cf. Jn 6: 53-55, Lk 22: 19, Matt. 26: 27-28, 1Cor. 11: 23-27, Jn 15: 1-5, Jn 6: 56-57). It does not mean that Jesus is being killed repetitively but that the same sacrifice he offered once and for all on that day is actually happening right now at Holy Mass. Nativity of The Christ happened, is happening and will happen, yet Jesus has been with us and he always is with us. These realities are very deep mysteries.
Very deep mysteries, indeed, we do celebrate at Christmas: Conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, his virgin mother was, indeed, still a virgin after the conception. This is a common belief. Wrought by the power of the Holy Spirit is the kind of birth that happened, for his mother was still a virgin thereafter and is, in reality, ever-virgin. This is not a common belief yet it is a sublime truth (Cf. Ezek. 44: 1-3). We celebrate the Vessel of Honour with which God brought us this great joy. We celebrate The Immaculate Conception with which God prepared the body for Jesus(Heb. 10: 4-7). Consequently, the body of Christ, which is body from Mary, was made sinless and the blood of Jesus, which is blood from Mary, was immaculate. The concept of the Immaculate Conception is that just before the eggs of Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary, came together to form her physical body, Original Sin was excluded from the union, an action that happened at the point of creation of her soul, which is the real moment of conception. A sinless soul was therefore infused into her body at the moment of its generative formation occasioned by her parents. This too, at Christmas, we celebrate.
We celebrate, also, his mother’s triune glory completed at the Nativity: the favoured daughter of God the Father, the chaste spouse of God the Holy Spirit, and now the worthy mother of God the Son, Jesus the Christ (Luke 1: 28-35). More mysteries did unfold at the Nativity.
At the Nativity, a glorified body emerged at birth just as a glorified body emerged after death: Subtlety which was at work after resurrection was also at work as early as during the Nativity: barriers unaffected, barriers un-affecting (Ezek. 44:2); passing like nothing, and as through nothing. So it was, also, in Nazareth during his ministry, the day he just walked through that vicious crowd and went his way (Luke 4: 28-30). Clarity, as emanation from a Glorified Body also was manifested at his birth, at Transfiguration and after Resurrection. Shepherds marvelled and testified in Bethlehem (Luke2: 9). Apostles saw and elected to remain at lonely Mount Tabor (Matt. 17: 1-4). Women beheld the resplendence of the risen (Matt. 28:1-3). Evinced in his star is the revelation of Agility: a great portent in the sky locating same time in all locations in the world, announcing the most exalted event in history. Great wisdom from the oriental sages: they probed. Dazed and amazed and quietly ecstatic, they beheld a most sublime magnificence there unveiled in a very lowly stable, and a simple manger, the loftiest throne for a most glorious king.