What do we expect from Christmas?
“When I was a child I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13: 11-13).
The popular and well-known teaching from St. Paul on Spiritual Gifts. There is an essence regarding love that Paul assigns to everyone who lives for today. Interestingly, these words fit so well with the very words of Jesus in his parables and the Old Testament, specifically Leviticus. “You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. Though you may have to reprove your fellow man, do not incur sin because of him. Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Lev. 19: 17-18).
These words reiterated by Jesus when asked what the greatest commandment was; “When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, who questioned the Resurrection, He said to them; “You shall love the Lord, your God,with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first commandment. The second is like it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Mt. 22: 34 - 40).
Of course we are told that Christmas and it’s very deep meaning presents the life of Jesus from cradle to cross; Incarnation to Resurrection. But the very essence of the ministry of Jesus lies heavily on the mandate of love. “If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong a clashing symbol. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Cor. 13: 1-2).
What should we expect from Christmas? Nothing before love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor. 13: 4-7).
As we hang the stockings this year along with surprising gifts there should be heartfelt love just waiting to be opened by those we love as well.
Ralph B. Hathaway, The gift of love this Christmas December 2021