|It seems strange that Christmas should occur at the coldest, bleakest time of year. No obvious connection between the spiritual feast and the seasonal frost presents itself. And yet, for some reason, it is not the vivacity of summer’s strength, the fecundity of spring’s renewal, nor the bounty of autumn’s harvest, but winter that is associated with the human birth of God.
Perhaps, then, the feast falls where it does precisely because of its incongruity with the natural cycle: Christ, the light of the world, is born into the cold darkness of December so that, in the depths of winter, we find a cause for joy. And this joy is unlike the fading charms of the other seasons of the year: for it underpins all our other celebrations and co-exists along side life’s unavoidable disappointments.
Indeed, the little joys of our daily lives seem to draw their meaning from the deep joy of this feast. For, at this time of year, nothing remains to celebrate but the beginning of something new, the sheer fact of life. Our individual joys mask the truth that our real, deepest joy is life itself. And this is what the joyful announcement of any birth recalls; whenever we delight in the good news of a single birth, we are really celebrating its deeper meaning: the renewal of the world, the miracle that men are born, the blissful mystery of life itself.
Birth epitomizes this mystery, because only the newborn child makes the mystery small enough to grasp. “Creation,” writes Simone Weil, “is an act of love and it is perpetual. At each moment, our existence is God’s love for us.” Birth, then, is the microcosm of this perpetual creation, an abbreviated reminder of the miracle which each of us is. Every birth is a pithy recapitulation of God’s own generosity to us and his continuing love of the world. Every birth reawakens our own relationship to God and the life He has given us.
In the New Testament, birth is one of the supreme metaphors for God’s action: in the Resurrection, Christ becomes the “firstborn from the dead” (Col 1:18) and in Baptism, the believer is “born from above” (John 3:3). But both of these metaphors draw their power from the image of birth, because birth itself is already miraculous: both the Resurrection of Christ and the Baptism of the believer can be compared to birth, because it is the first miracle these others complete.
Christ says: “Whenever a woman is in labour, she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.” (John 16:21). In the pro-life movement, we labour to bring forth a society in which every new life is welcomed and cherished, but often our work feels like anguish. Christmas, then, reminds us that our own hour will come and our struggles will be forgotten, because our joy will be complete. Thus, the joy and the spirit of Christmas accompanies us throughout the year: the joy of the Mother with her Child will one day be our own. And until the hearts and minds of our countrymen are touched by the beauty of birth, we will continue to work, keeping this joy alive in our own hearts, as living witnesses to the wonder of life itself.
We at The Interim wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a New Year full of joy.