By Jason Michael
It really is a shame that Christmas only comes around once a year. When we think that it is the only time that the government and the media pay any attention to the homeless and the poorest, we should have our trees and lights up all year round.
At this time of year the television likes to put on these curiosity programmes featuring people who go a little overboard with the whole Christmas thing. There are people who get all competitive about the lights and decorations about their homes, others who take the role of playing Father Christmas to the point of insanity, and others who love Christmas dinner so much they have one every single day of the year. We all enjoy watching these things because we are comforted, I’m sure, to be reminded that there are still people out there who are crazier than we are. It wasn’t until I heard Fr. Peter Rogers preaching that the idea of celebrating Christmas for the whole year began to make sense to me.
A couple of weeks before Fr. Gerry Corcoran had related the story of the Nativity to the plight of the homeless in Ireland, and over December this blog has returned repeatedly to the scandal that is the Irish homeless crisis. On the 22 December we discussed the fact that the media only pays attention to this problem in the week or so before Christmas, and it was Peter Rogers who presented me with an ideal solution; that we celebrate Christmas all through the year and use that sense of story and narrative to draw attention to those for whom there is never any room at the inn.
We’re all familiar with the Christmas story with Mary and Joseph, the baby Jesus, angels, shepherds, inn keepers, and the lobster in the school Nativity play, but we have become less familiar with what the story is about. It’s not history. It isn’t even particularly good drama. Matthew and Luke throw in the tales of Jesus’ birth almost as an afterthought to early Christian memory. What this is, is theology explaining in narrative the mystery of something of far greater importance – the Incarnation, the epicentre of the Christian story, the moment God took flesh and dwelt among us. Perhaps the Orthodox Church states it better: God became human that humans might become God. The union of heaven and earth.
Christmas is about the human story. It is written as a story because people communicate in stories, and that is its power. It is about all human stories, from the very poorest to the very richest. Angels proclaim a birth in a filthy cattle shed and wise men travel with gifts for a king. This is the union of the very poor with the highest heaven. It is in this that we are reminded of what the story is really all about, and that our government and media remember the suffering of the homeless for this single week is the reason that we must be people who remember Christmas – and its meaning – every single day of the year. Okay, I can live with that. But I’ll only do party hats for one day.
Author: Jason Michael (@Jeggit)