Jesus Christ is born for us. Jesus Christ dies for us. Jesus Christ conquers death and rises again for us. Because of our place in time, December 27, 2019 AD – Anno Domini, In the year of our Lord, we are capable of experiencing the Paschal Mystery of Jesus: his life, suffering, death, Resurrection, and Ascension into Heaven. The important question we need to answer is, “Does this new fact, this new reality in human history make a real difference in our lives?”
Christmas did not end two days ago. We are still in the Octave of Christmas. The Church celebrates two octaves in the Church liturgical calendars, Christmas and Easter. These eight days are celebrated as such to impress on us the solemnity of the event of remembrance. From the vigil celebration of Christmas Eve on December 24 to January 1, the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, we celebrate the significant event of the Incarnation, the Son of God becoming one with us in human history. The Masses celebrated within the Octave of Christmas, as well as the readings of Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours, reflect the celebration of Christmas Day each day for the eight days. It is like having a week-long birthday party.
If we are solely focused on gifts, the returning of gifts, and celebration apart from the celebration of Jesus’ birth, if we are removed from the liturgical cycle and rhythm of the Church, it is easy to fall into the post-Christmas blues because it does feel like everything is done but the returning of gifts and getting a good after Christmas deal. We hear Christmas music coming through many radio channels for weeks before Christmas, but at some point on Christmas Day and definitely the following day, they stop. This is when the music of Christmas ought to begin!
A cure for the post-Christmas blues is to be thankful and rejoice in the Gospel, the Good News, that Jesus changed human history and we are a part of that human history of transformation. In today’s Gospel reading from John, Mary Magdalene shared that Jesus was no longer in the tomb. Peter and James ran to see, John arrived first, and then Peter. Peter went in and saw an empty tomb except for the burial clothes. When John entered after Peter, “he saw and believed” (Jn 20:8).
Do we see? Do we believe? The Apostle John came to realize and embrace the gift of the Paschal Mystery: Jesus has been born for us, he suffered, died, rose again and conquered death for us. His, Mary and Peter’s lives were transformed and ours can be too. This is something to celebrate, not just two days ago, or just today, but for eight days, each and every day! “O Come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, O Come let us adore him, Christ, the Lord!”