SPSE’s San Diego–North County team was working at Oceanside pier two days after Christmas. With the pre-holiday frenzy quieted, the team was able to hold some good conversations.
For Catholics, the Christmas celebration doesn’t actually begin until the start of Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and it continues throughout the Christmas season, which goes all the way through to the Feast of Baptism of the Lord (January 11th, in the United States this year). Why is this? Jesus Christ transcends and transforms everything in our lives — including time.
We spent four weeks anticipating anew the coming of the Son of God into our very messy human condition: at Bethlehem, at the end of time in the Second Coming, and today in the Sacraments of the Church. That was the Season of Advent. In the Season of Christmas, now about to end, we’ve been consciously rejoicing that God has revealed Himself to us in ways we could never have anticipated.
But Christmas, although joyous, is not a season of unfettered frivolity either. Again, the Liturgical calendar reminds us of the cost of true discipleship. During the Christmas Season, we also commemorated several martyrs — beginning with St. Stephen on December 26th. This also reminds us of God’s great love for us, so great that “he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). We are reminded that we are still pilgrims on our way to the only lasting joy.
And we are surely pilgrims. We live in this life, experiencing seasons of joy, seasons of pain, seasons of fulfillment, seasons of waiting. But all of these are seasons of waiting, for we look forward to the time when our pains will be as the battle scars of victory, our joy will be complete, and all will be fulfillment. As the Letter to the Hebrews says about our ancestors in the Faith, “These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (11:13–16).
Thank you, San Diego–North County team! Join us?