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The Problem of Christmas

by Simone Rizkallah

The “true meaning” of Christmas is often confused as Hallmark movies, shopping malls, and a largely secular environment are attractive distractions from enjoying the depth of this joyful feast.

On the one hand, the secular world gets it right when “love” is proclaimed as the meaning of Christmas. On the other hand, this begs the perennial question, “What is love?” For Christians, love is not a “what” but a “who.” Because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

This is the problem to grapple with—that the one God whose being and existence is the reality of love itself. Because of this fact, He desired to befriend us in a new way by becoming human like us. Talk about an epic transformation plot. The Christmas story is about a love so radical that the only all-powerful God of the entire universe becomes a little, helpless baby. He can truly relate to literally every experience, positive or negative, that we encounter in our ordinary human lives. He “gets” it. He “gets” us. And He wants us to talk to Him about everything and He has something to say to us about everything.

Accepting this love and friendship, through the God-man Jesus Christ, is another problem. I have found it difficult to receive a love that can’t be earned and can’t be repaid. Divine love is so different from broken human love. We measure and calculate and judge. He is unconditional and generous and merciful.

St. John the Apostle (basically, Jesus’ best friend called the beloved) gives us yet another problem to grapple with in his epistle: If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:11)

How can we love one another this Christmas? Of course, there are countless ways. I propose one in particular. Speak to your friends, family, and colleagues about the true meaning of Christmas and bring them to Christ’s mass (Christmas!) at your parish. Give them the opportunity to have a life-long struggle to understand and live the meaning of being created, loved, and invited into God’s life, family, and friendship.

Make Christmas a problem.

This post was originally posted here.

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