Happy Ordinary Time!
Now that the Christmas Season is over, I have time to think a bit more about it.
A priest friend of mine related a story that happened to him one Advent. Shortly before Christmas Eve, he received a call from an older woman, asking if he celebrated Midnight Mass. He said he did not, but celebrated an earlier Mass, as a nearby parish celebrated Midnight Mass.
She told him that she was an old-fashioned Catholic, and really thought that Midnight Mass should be celebrated everywhere.
He asked her where she regularly attended Mass, and she replied that she didn't regularly attend Mass.
Uh-huh. So just how does she call herself an "old-fashioned" Catholic, when attending Sunday Mass is one of the basics?
This made me think of the catchy phrase "Keep Christ in Christmas", which I believe is promoted by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's organization I greatly admire.
I think that in the struggle to recognize Christ as "The Reason for the Season" as another phrase goes, some fall into the trap of ONLY keeping Christ in Christmas, and at no other time of the year...except maybe Easter.
This is not a sustainable relationship with Christ or His Church.
To be Christians, we must not only recognize that Christ came...as we do at Christmas when we envision the Manger and listen to readings from Luke's gospel, but we must remember that He will also come again at the end of time (parousia).
Will He recognize those who think they know Him? Do 'they' really know Him, when they do not regularly recieve Him, in the Word, or in the Flesh?
Reading Scripture on ones own, while an admirable practice, does not suffice. We need to also read Scripture through the lense of the Church. As it says in Acts 8:31; "How can I understand if no one explains it to me?"
To read scripture only through ones own interpretation, or through another person's interpretation leads to the embarassment which all Christians should feel at the disunity of Christian denominations.
So where do we find Christ, if not only in Christmas? In the hearts of believing Christians. In the Word (Holy Scripture). In the Eucharist, where we have Christ; Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. And finally in the validly ordained Priest or Bishop when he celebrates the Mass where Christ comes to us in the Eucharist.
The Church Jesus founded becomes Him. He remains at the head of the Church. If you doubt this, remember the words spoken by Christ to Saul, on the road to Damascus "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" Saul, later to become St. Paul, was not persecuting Christ, to all appearances. He was persecuting Christians. Christ in His question to Saul, verified that we are Christ's Church, and therefore part of Himself.
Keep Christ in Christmas...but don't leave him there!