For some, the day after Christmas is the time to throw away the Christmas tree. But in much of the Christian world, December 25th is only the beginning of the Season of Christmas. And it has deep connections with the pro-life movement.
First of all, Christmas is not just the celebration of the birth of Jesus; it is the celebration of the Incarnation, the whole mystery of God becoming human. The exchange of Christmas gifts is rooted in the exchange of natures: God takes our humanity upon himself, and gives us a share in his divinity.
Christmas is intimately linked with the Annunciation, when, nine months earlier, Mary says “Yes” to God, who is then conceived in her womb.
And the Incarnation tells us what God thinks of human life, which is already sacred because he created it, but now is even more sacred in its union with God. By taking human nature upon himself, Jesus unites to himself in some way every human being. Since there is only one human nature, this union includes the unborn.
As Pope Francis said a few years ago at his Midnight Mass homily, we must let the newborn Christ Child challenge us to welcome every child. “Let us allow ourselves to be challenged by the children who are not allowed to be born,” he said, in a reference to legal abortion.
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This challenge is echoed in the best-known English translation of the Christmas hymn ” O Holy Night,” authored by John Sullivan Dwight (1813-1893), a Unitarian minister. As we read in ErasOfElegance.com, “Dwight felt that this wonderful Christmas song needed to be introduced to America, and he saw something else in the song that moved him beyond the story of the birth of Christ. An ardent abolitionist, Dwight strongly identified with the lines of the third verse: “Truly he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother; and in his name all oppression shall cease.””
The text is likewise rich in meaning for the pro-life movement. Our Christmas cannot be complete until we join in the great effort to end the oppression of the unborn once and for all, and let them hear that for them, too, a Savior has been born. In the name of the newborn Christ, the oppression of our unborn children will cease.
The Christmas season lasts until the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism, which this year will fall on January 9th. Between now and then, we will reflect on how the birth of Christ was followed by the slaughter of the Holy Innocents (Dec. 28), how the Family is the Sanctuary of Life (Feast of the Holy Family, Dec. 30), how important and sacred Motherhood is (Jan. 1), how God reveals his glory in the gift of human life (Epiphany, Jan 8) and how Jesus has come to save us from sin and death (Lord’s Baptism, Jan. 9).
May the Christmas Season enliven and invigorate our pro-life work and witness!
For more about the relationship of Christmas and pro-life, see www.ChristmasForTheUnborn.com.