All the Christmas gifts have now been opened and the luster and glee of those items a bit worn off, the world is telling you that it’s time to forget the Christmas season and start getting back to work. There is no argument here that Christmas can’t last forever, but that doesn’t mean that all the good the season has awakened in you should be packed away with your decorations.
Most people who celebrate Christmas are drawn into a different mindset than they had during the previous months. The season has a way of eliciting more patience and goodwill, and of course, a spirit of generosity. Those who are more reflective and religious quickly understand the two qualities of goodwill and generosity are byproducts of the real meaning of Christmas, insofar, as those virtues represent the thankfulness we have of Jesus entering into our world as its Savior. Too often, goodwill and generosity begin and end with the Christmas feast.
During the Christmas season, families and friends gather around a common holiday table which is usually is a sign of goodwill on the part of the host and guests. The secular definition of goodwill is an attitude of kindness, friendliness and benevolence and is often exercised by those joyfully celebrating Christmas. Actually, the goodwill or peace exhibited is an outward manifestation of God’s grace foretold long ago by the angel at the birth of Jesus and recorded in the Gospel of Luke 2:14. The footnote found on the USCCB’s digital bible explains: “On earth peace to those on whom his favor rests: the peace that results from the Christ event is for those whom God has favored with his grace. This reading is found in the oldest representatives of the Western and Alexandrian text traditions and is the preferred one; the Byzantine text tradition, on the other hand, reads: “on earth peace, good will toward men.”
The second virtue which shines during Christmas, is of course generosity. The tradition of giving and receiving presents during Christmas is unparalleled throughout the year. The original meaning of the tradition is often made less evident by secular world, and some do not even connect the seasonal generosity with the supreme gift of the birth of Christ. Everywhere in the nativity story are signs are generosity. Mary and Joseph gave the gift of their lives to the plan of salvation, for without them, the Savior could not be born. The gift of themselves to all humanity is an example of extreme generosity.
The epitome, however, of generosity is the gift of Son of God becoming man. “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” The same Word who is consubstantial with the Father, existing for all time, and through him all things came to be; that Word became a baby with the sole purpose of generously saving us from death.
You have already exhibited the ability to be persons of generosity and goodwill. Make one selfless New Year’s resolution to extend what you have already done throughout the next eleven months. That doesn’t mean buying and wrapping presents again, but it does mean having a peaceful and generous spirit throughout the year.
When next Christmas comes, God willing, you will just have to show even more goodwill and generosity. Then you will begin to know what it means to work at being “ “perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”