I was very struck by an article I read in recent days that offered a contemporary reading of the meditation written by Chiara Lubich “They Dislodged Jesus” (1997). There, among other things, she wrote: “In my heart I felt disbelief and then almost rebellion: this rich world has “grabbed” Christmas and all its surroundings, and they have dislodged Jesus! The world loves the poetry, the atmosphere, the friendships that Christmas brings – the gifts, the lights, the stars, the singing. This world counts on Christmas to bring the greatest profit of the year. But it does not think of Jesus. “There was no room for him at the inn.” […]”.
Certainly when one lives in a predominantly Christian environment like Loppiano, and surrounded by Christians, perhaps one does not realize that the reality in which many people in the West are immersed is a different one. I am not naive, the majority of my friends in Spain are non-believers or non-practicing. But let’s just say that my eyes sort of opened again after that reading, and then I asked myself the question, “What is Christmas for you?”
I am in that age group that sees Christmas stripped of the things that characterized it as a child or teenager. Traditions, such as going to the neighbors’ to wish them well, typical songs, gifts and… above all the gatherings that saw the whole family united (now many members are missing, either because they have left for Heaven or simply because they no longer get together). And so one can see how there is a little nostalgia of the past.
However, the question remains, “What is Christmas to you?”: And I must personally answer in all sincerity, “Christmas is Jesus.” It is Jesus, who comes today, also today. He comes to incarnate himself in this concrete reality where I am, at this time, December 2021. And he certainly brings his gifts with him, even today.
If Christmas is Jesus, then we put Him at the center.
Christmas is also peace, because contemplating that Child in Bethlehem, the love of a God who makes himself so small, the heart is filled with serenity and peace.
Christmas is also joy, we can celebrate, we can still sing, because Jesus came to save us, indeed his name means “God saves”.
Christmas is also family, perhaps not like before, but with the brothers and sisters who are next to me, because Jesus has made us all brothers and sisters and children of God.
Christmas is love, because contemplating the Love of God that crosses the infinite distance between Heaven and Earth, and all of history, one cannot respond in any other way than by loving.
And certainly each of us needs all these things, and all of humanity too!
So, I wish (and I wish this also for you) that we are able to enjoy these gifts together, with Jesus among us.
As Chiara Lubich always said: may this be the most beautiful Christmas of our lives! Merry Christmas!
Aitor de la Morena
Aitor de la Morena is a focolarino priest who has been attending and living in Loppiano since 2010. He comes from Spain, from a village called El Molar, about 40 kilometers from Madrid. Aitor is pursuing a doctorate in Trinitarian Ontology at Sophia University Institute.