It is December already and the joys of Christmas are all around us. But what is the true meaning of Christmas? Is it found in the gifts under the beautifully decorated tree? The colorful lights on our houses? The cookies being baked? The stockings hanging over the fireplace? Is it the greeting of Merry Christmas to those who pass by us? Is this the true meaning of Christmas?
Each Christmas many of us watch “A Christmas carol.” Could we find the true meaning of Christmas in the character of Ebenezer Scrooge? The story describes the lonely life of a mis-lived man. During the movie he is visited by three spirits. The first spirit, the Ghost of the past, takes Scrooge to a Christmas scene of his boyhood, a very lonely time in his life. The second spirit, the Ghost of the Present, takes him to the home of Bob Cratchit and he is introduced to Tiny Tim, a happy boy who is seriously ill. The spirit informs Scrooge that tiny Tim will die unless the course of events change. The third spirit, the Ghost of Christmas yet to come, shows Scrooge a neglected grave with a tombstone bearing Scrooge’s own name on it. Sobbing, Scrooge pledges to change his ways, and he does.
The meaning of Christmas is found in one simple sentence, “To give of one’s very self.” To give of one’s self is to think of others, how to bring the greatest happiness to others.
Christmas explains how stingy people can become generous, tired people can become energized, lonely people can feel loved. That is why we look forward to this beautiful time of the year with such anticipation. Christmas carries with it hope, peace and love. Christmas changes the world.
On Christmas, we honor a child who came into the world in the midst of chaos. This baby is the One who gives us hope now as we encounter loneliness, despair, or discouragement.
In the words of Tiny Tim, A Merry Christmas to us all, God bless us, every one!
Monsignor John Zuraw is a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown. He presently serves as pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Niles. Along with his
duties as pastor he is the Chancellor and Vicar for Pastoral and Education Services for the Diocese of Youngstown.