I remember back before we started going to the fairgrounds for Christmas Eve we would try and have it at church. And everybody came to the early Mass and it was overwhelming and chaotic and it was a horrible experience. And then everybody would rush out as soon as communion was over.
Side note: Some people demonstrate that habit every week which is a special source of irritation to me; leaving Mass early is like going to someone’s house for dinner, leaving after the main course and not saying good bye or thank you.
On Christmas Eve it seemed like everyone left early. Anyway, I was talking about the problem with a friend, and I said, “It is so disappointing, we put so much effort and time into Christmas Eve and people just rush out after communion, what is that all about?” And my friend, who runs a very expensive restaurant told me the same thing actually happens on Christmas Eve at his place. People make reservations weeks in advance; they spend a lot of money. Early in the evening the place is packed, but then everybody rushes through his or her dinner and the place is deserted before you know it.
Why? My friend said, “Michael, they just want to get it over with.”
For a lot of people all they want to do is get Christmas over with. Like weekly Mass attendance, for some people Christmas is only an unwelcome obligation to be gotten over with.
Contrast that to the excitement you felt for Christmas as a kid.
As a kid, you can’t wait for Christmas to come, it always felt like it would never come. Of course, there is no doubt Christmas is coming. That’s not a question for us. The question for each of us is what will it bring and how will we receive it.
Fundamentally, Christmas is a season of hope. That is what we are experiencing as children…and that is exactly what we are missing out on as adults when we give in to the cynicism that comes with the “get it over with” attitude.
In the Christian faith, hope is one of the most important character qualities of all, not wishful thinking…hope.
Hope is confidence, it engages the mind. It is a thought process, like the power of positive thinking.
But hope isn’t just positive thinking, it also engages the heart because hope also requires desire. When it comes to hope there is always something we don’t currently possess or experience that we want to have.
Hope is about the head and the heart, but it also is going to eventually require us to do something, in other words action. For hope to be hope, there has to be action, there has to be commitment.
Christianity is a religion of hope. It understands that we are not there yet. We have not achieved all God has in mind for us. We are only on our way.
Ironically Karl Marx famously called religion the opiate of the people. When understood correctly, Christianity is actually the opposite of that; it is precisely for people who desire more, who are confident that there is more, who act like there is more.
If you are completely satisfied with life as it is right now then Jesus’ teachings will never really appeal to you.
(You might as well leave Mass early).