We may be wondering if the joy and true meaning of Christmas can be genuinely celebrated this year when there are restrictions on gathering, on worship, and perhaps even on our purse. For some Christmas might feel more like a reminder of what they don’t have: a loving family, money for nice gifts, health, etc. For some, this may be the first Christmas after the loss of a loved one.

The truth is that the good news of the birth of our Savior is not just for those who are doing well, have a loving family, are wealthy and healthy. This is good news for all of us, and in a special way for those who are poor, sick, burdened. It is good news for the sinners, for the weak, for the grieving, and for the dying.

Christmas is much more than a birthday or baby shower celebration. It is the birth of our Redeemer: the one who has come to save us from our sins and open to us the gates of eternal life. We are celebrating the all-powerful choosing to become small, weak, and helpless. We are commemorating God who is pure spirit coming down, taking on human form, taking on a body that is capable of the joys and pleasure of this life; but also of suffering, of being hurt, of feeling lonely, of experiencing hunger and thirst. He is truly Emmanuel: God with us.

What wondrous love is this! God is willing to leave the comfort and joys of heaven to become flesh for me. I don’t need gifts or even decorations for the essence of Christmas to take place in my heart. We are celebrating the fact that God is with us now and forever. God loves us so much that He came to earth to give His life for me. Most children are born to live. He was born to die for us. This is to be celebrated with awe, reverence and bended knee.

This incredible act of love demands something of me. I can’t just gaze at the manger, sing some carols but at the core remain indifferent.

What am I willing to give to this Jesus who moved by love is willing to enter our darkness, become one with us and offer his life to set us free?

When I ask myself what I can give in return, I realize that the Christ Child wants my heart, with everything I am: my dreams, my desires, my griefs, my limitations.

For me this year giving my heart and life to Jesus means surrendering my plans and my need to be in control. I do so by inviting him into decision making, into the joys and the difficulties of my day to day: not waiting until the weekend to let the Lord know about my challenges, but surrendering and inviting the Lord into them right away with the following prayer: Lord, I surrender this totally to you. Take care of it. I trust in you.

This Christmas may look different for many of us. Regardless of the circumstances, Our Lord wants to be Emmanuel (God with us). He wants to join us and come to us just as we are. He comes as a small baby offering His love and asking for ours.