What it means has been lost along the way.
The distractions are all over the place, the message has been distorted, and the messenger has been reduced to a God-of-last-resort.
When everything else fails, we come to the God-with-us, the Immanuel.
When the world crumbles down on us, we remember that we have forgotten: that there is the Creator from whom all goodness comes.
We live in a world mishmashed by the unnecessary, clouded by the accidents we do not need in order to put some substance to what makes sense because it matters most.
All over the place are the seductions of the temporary, the everyday.
All over the place are the enchantments of those that will come to pass and we forget, effectively.
In some sense, the recipient of the message is on the loose, unable to rein in himself, reining in what needs to be reined in but unsuccessfully at most.
The phantom that is the world—looming large and welcoming—is too huge to be dismissed, its offer of the deal too tempting to simply turn our back to.
Such is our lives these days.
The tentativeness is permanent, the permanence so tentative.
Not a whit do we care about the essentials without reducing our actions to essentialism.
Or even to a soap opera of the meaningless kind, produced by pop culture mindlessly, reinforced by commerce and profit and greed intentionally.
In all these, we have lost the meaning of Christmas.
In all these, Christmas has lost its sense to us.
We are here to fulfill a ritual, a ceremony of forgetting even as we troop to the vendo machines giving out all the gifts that we buy to substitute the loving that we cannot give.
We can call this the human condition, the current human condition, with all its flimsiness, its artifice, and its lack of substance.
We need to take stock of what we have got, like learning again the lessons on how to make our world more human and humane, more caring, more competent in dealing with the widespread apathy that has afflicted us.
The human condition is this: indifferent to the sufferings of the world, indifferent to the situations of others that have been reduced to wretchedness, indifferent to the impossibility of announcing what can be redeemed, indifferent to what can make us remember so that once again we can become more human, we can become more humane, we can become again the image of the created being that can rightly sport the qualification “God-with-us.”
We have forgotten this “us,” this us that is “God-with-us.”
A redeemer has been given unto us, and that redeemer is placed somewhere, like a reserved tire, like a spare part of the mechanical life that we have learned to lead and live.
The God-with-us is not needed, let that stay in the nook, in that dark corner somewhere.
The God-with-us is needed now, make the call.
It is that: transactional, business-like, negotiable, instrumental.
It is in this light that we reiterate that Christmas is not a passing season.
That Christmas is not an invention of human history.
That Christmas is not a product of human imagination with all the ugly connotations of that imagination.
Christmas is what it is: a commitment to the human community.
It is a commitment to the redemption of all peoples.