Merry Christmas!

By Matt Potter

Radical Joy - Catholic Stewardship and Abundance

December 25 is the publishing date of this edition of The Message, even though most people will be reading this after Christmas day. Yet it is completely appropriate to wish one another “Merry Christmas” after Christmas day.

While Christmas is celebrated on Dec. 25, the celebration lasts through the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, which is Jan. 10, 2021, next year. There are those who say we celebrate Christmas through the Presentation of the Lord, which is Feb. 2, 2021, but that’s a different column. Regardless of which camp you belong to, wishing each other a “Merry Christmas” can continue in good conscience for some time.

If that’s the case, then why have we been saying “Merry Christmas” since, well, Halloween? Because much of our world is run on a consumerist calendar that marks holidays by a rise in sales as opposed to the birth of the Savior of Mankind.

In the event that there is any confusion, the season that just ended was Advent. It was the time of preparation for Christmas, not Christmas itself. But Hallmark has never produced an Advent movie, and no home lighting contest has ever been dubbed an Advent lighting contest. If we want to fight that particular battle, I would say don’t waste your time. Rather, next year when all the Christmas decorations come out – snowmen, reindeer, penguins, polar bears drinking cola – keep them on the shelf.

That’s a radical concept; but the title of this column is “Radical Joy,” right? Trying to change popular culture is nearly impossible. However, we can change the way we do things. Instead of propping an elf doll on a kitchen counter, or placing a cola-swigging stuffed polar bear on the fireplace mantel, focus on the daily Mass readings, which, indeed, are preparing us for celebrating the birth of our Lord. One of the ways to keep that focus is to read one of the many commentaries on the readings offered by some outstanding Catholic writers.

One of these meditations came from a book we received from our parish, Holy Rosary in Evansville. It was a story about a small boy who developed a rare and deadly blood disease that required a blood transfusion in order for him to continue living. It turned out that his seven-year-old sister was a match, and she volunteered to give her brother her blood.

The transfusion was successful. After the procedure, she asked the doctor if he could tell her how long it would take for her to die. She mistakenly believed that she had given all her blood to her brother and that he would live but she would not.

What struck me the most about this heart-wrenching story was the selfless love shown by a 7-year-old for her brother. Her actions were the embodiment of Jesus’ own words from John’s Gospel: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13).

This little girl gave everything she had to save her brother. Jesus gave everything He had to save us. God the Father gave us His only Son for the sole reason that He loves us.

The world will now put away its decorations, stop playing Christmas music and concentrate on returning gifts it neither wanted nor needed.

For those of us in the know, however, let the celebration begin.

Merry Christmas!

As always, thanks for reading. I would love to hear from you. Write to me at Like and Follow us on Facebook (Radical Joy - Diocese of Evansville Stewardship); Twitter @Radicallyjoyful; Check out our blog