In January, after the magic wears off, we feel better if we can look back at a wonderful December full of “the magic of Christmas”—the warmth of friendship and the joy of gifts and celebrations and festive meals—

      ….we hardly ever think of GOD really being involved in Christmas.  Isn’t it mostly us or our friends or family “doing it”—it’s a lot of work, but we don’t mind.  We never think of RELIGION being involved except during Midnight Mass–maybe.   (Nowadays religion seems to be too fragile a subject to be involved with Christmas which we have filled with good natured patience & mutual compliments & honest acceptance of our fellow humans’ diversity, and all. eHappy Holidayse we say, not realizing that holiday originally meant Holy Day.)

     Maybe we should just confess  that we Catholics believe in magic, even though the Catechism of the Catholic Church says we shouldn’t because magic is “gravely contrary to the virtue of religion” the way it tries  “to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others.”(CCC 2117)  You can see that the Catechism is not talking about what we believe about magic.  We’re not into voodoo dolls or the evil eye of malocchio or leprechauns’ pot of gold (despite those examples which show the acceptance by past Catholic cultures of that kind of magic).  When we 21st century Catholics say Christmas is “magical” we mean

It’s a time when WONDERFUL— often BEAUTIFUL– things that seem almost IMPOSSIBLE happen with us and with people we love.

      Take a moment to look back three weeks…..Isn’t that what happened in the best parts of the Christmas season for you and me?    

     Catholics believe that you and I and our friends and family were inspired, motivated, invigorated, inflamed, sanctified, blessed not only by the facts of Christmas  (the fact of  God becoming human is probably the starting point), but mostly by THE PRESENCE OF GOD  during the Christmas season.  The Infancy of Jesus gently reminding us that “God is with us” (Emmanuel) because He loves us…. whispering that He is still with us hoping we will love Him back…. And without actually focusing on that whisper, we respond by “doing” the gifts and celebrations and festive meals, the patience & mutual compliments & acceptance of diversity and all without realizing that in doing Christmas, we are loving God back.  Mysteriously, we are more aware of God’s presence at Christmas time and that makes all the difference.

     You have already heard the God definition that ties this all together:  “God is MYSTERY PRESENT.”   God is impossible to completely understand and yet is here on earth with us now and forever, hoping we will love Him back.  Not only in December.  Not only at Christmas dinner. 

     We are better at loving God back when we have just a sniff of Mystery Present.  Maybe January could be just as magical as Christmas time if we reminded each other that . . . .