The Tears of Christmastime
December 1, 2001 - "I cannot imagine Christmas without a time of solitude, of deep personal reflection on the mystery of the incarnation."
by Marcos Vidal
Christmas is a time of joy ... and a time of tears. As a child, I enjoyed Christmas Day! I remember the family reunions that we had every year, and I can still see the flame from the candles that reflected in everyone’s eyes.
My best memories, however, are from the days before the celebration—the wait. As a young boy, I developed the tradition of looking out my bedroom window and allowing my mind to be invaded by one image, one idea: Bethlehem.
I would try to decipher the mystery of that Baby Boy, and inevitably I would end up crying and kneeling at the end of my bed. It was a time of contemplation, a feeling of amazement.
Tears still come to my eyes every Christmas. I cannot imagine Christmas without a time of solitude, of deep personal reflection on the mystery of the incarnation. How essential it is for us to understand what we celebrate. That is why I invite you on an imaginary trip to Bethlehem, to the stable, just to contemplate.
When we feel the poverty of the family into which the King was born, we realize how far away most of us are from Christmas. And when we remember that the Baby who sleeps in the manger is God and that He humbled Himself voluntarily for us, we may become teary-eyed.
But those tears come from the sensation of being rescued, of being found. It is as if we are prisoners bound by chains and tortured for years, and then suddenly we are liberated in exchange for the life of another—and we cry. And through the years of living in freedom, we often think of the One who gave up His life to rescue us, and we weep tears of appreciation, of love, of homage.
It is nice to participate in some of the Christmas traditions today, but let’s not forget that we need to "visit" the manger in Bethlehem.
Tears at Christmastime are a sign of the identity of humankind, a demonstration of what is moving inside us. When we enter Bethlehem in our minds, we cannot be the same again; we are transformed by contemplating what took place in that stable. We come to understand the real meaning of Christmas. And when we understand the real meaning of Christmas, we weep.