10 simple ways to get close to the Christ Child this Christmas
By: By Father James King
As we draw near to Christmas Day, let’s consider some simple things we do or might do to make our celebration holier and more joy-filled.
— Begin Christmas day well by remembering the mystery we are celebrating. “The angel said, ‘I bring you good news of great joy. . . . To you is born this day in the city of David a child, who is Christ the Lord'” (Luke 2:10-11). As you awaken on Christmas Day let your first thought be of Jesus. Thank God for Him, wish Him “Happy Birthday,” and resolve to do all you do that day — gatherings, gifts, meals — in His honor and in honor of His Birth.
— Adore Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. When the Wise Men went “into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him” (Matthew 2:11). The same Jesus whom the Wise Men adored in the manger at Bethlehem we adore on our altars at Mass — only His appearance is different. When we go to Mass, especially on Christmas Day, it is as if we are going to Bethlehem.
— Spend some time before a Nativity scene at home or at church. “The shepherds went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:16). Adore the Christ Child, and give the baby Jesus a kiss. If you can’t reach the Nativity scene, blow Him a kiss. Show Him that you love Him.
— Say at least one decade of the Rosary with Mary — the third joyful mystery, the Birth of Jesus. “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). The joy of Mary at the birth of her Son exceeded the joy of any other human being. Enter into Mary’s joy and ask her to help you to rejoice. Mary herself said, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47).
— Don’t let the celebration of Christmas be a cause of worry. On the first Christmas Day, the angel told the shepherds, “Be not afraid” (Luke 2:10). Entrust the day to God and ask him to help you and those you are with to have a good and holy day. He will come to your assistance.
— Make Christmas music part of your celebration. Why is it that some of the most beautiful songs ever written — both sacred and secular — are about Christmas? Surely it must be the event we’re celebrating. For at least part of the day, play some of this music, especially Christ-centered music, in the background.
— Go out of your way to be sincerely kind to others. “The Father sent his Son as Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). By sending us His Son, God, we might say, “went out of His way” to show His love for us. Follow His example. Go out of yourself in love. Think and talk less of yourself and show a true interest and concern in others. When we love others it is as if Christ comes down again and is born in our hearts.
— Invite someone who has no place to go on Christmas to your celebration. “There was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). If there is someone you know who may have no place to go for Christmas, reach out to them. If you’re not sure if they have plans, give them a call before Christmas to wish them a Merry Christmas, and in the course of the conversation ask them, “So what are your plans for Christmas?” If they have none, invite them to be part of your celebration.
— Ask God to grant peace to individuals, families, and to the whole world. “A multitude of the heavenly host praised God saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men'” (Luke 2:13-14). Christ came into the world as the Prince of Peace. The angels proclaimed peace to the world on the first Christmas Day. The pope offers his blessing “urbi et orbi” (“to the city Rome and the world”) on Christmas, praying for peace in the world.
— Lead the children to Jesus on Christmas. “Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them'” (Matthew 19:14). If you have a Nativity set at home, make placing the baby Jesus into the crib on Christmas Day an important event. Do this, perhaps, after attending Mass. Let the children take turns each year.
In our culture, with its emphasis on presents, it can be difficult for us to make Jesus the center of our Christmas celebration, but let’s all do the best we can. Surely the Infant Jesus will bless our efforts to honor Him.
FATHER KING is a priest of the Diocese of Peoria on leave of absence for health reasons.