Pope Francis’ great Christmas gift to us all

By Michael Sean Winters, 23 December 2020
Nativity scene, Christmas
The Nativity with the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel by Duccio di Buoninsegna. Image: Wikimedia Commons.


For Catholics in the United States, Christmas came early this year. And it came twice.

First, on Thanksgiving morning, we awoke to a lengthy op-ed from our Holy Father in The New York Times. Then, in the weeks of Advent, the book from which that essay was extracted, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, came out.

Why do I equate these two publishing events with a double early Christmas? Because Christmas is not really about family and gift giving and caroling and all that, except and only insofar as those things are about this great mystery of our faith, the Incarnation, about the belief that God himself took on human flesh, giving it — and therefore us — a dignity that demands we cherish our time together, bestow symbolic gifts upon one another, and even sing to each other in the cold.

Pope Francis’ essay and book share the thoughts of this most gifted parish priest at this terrible time of pandemic. He does not present much in the way of high falutin’ theology. Instead, he provides simple lessons to explain how this moment calls us all to be better Christians and, being better Christians, to become better human beings. And the Holy Father reverses the order, explaining how by being better human beings, we become better Christians. If that is not the real meaning of Christmas, I do not know what is.

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Michael Sean Winters covers the nexus of religion and politics for NCR.

With thanks to the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) and Michael Sean Winters, where this article originally appeared.


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