By Fr. Peter Vecellio, O.C.D.

Wishing you all a Blessed Advent and Christmas from Uganda! This is the time of the year to focus on how Christ comes into our lives anew. I just had the privilege of baptizing ten little babies and children at a Mass on Gaudete Sunday. For those unfamiliar with the term, Gaudete simply means “rejoice.” What a time for rejoicing to see Christ coming in a very real way into the lives of those innocent children! Just as Christ came into our lives at baptism, so He wants to come into them again and in an even deeper way right now.

And isn’t this what Christmas is all about? Not that we have all our gifts wrapped. Or that all our lights and decorations are in place. Or even that we have the Christmas crib ready and waiting for the Christ child. The more essential question is whether our hearts are ready and waiting for Christ to find a new home there.          

Uganda is clearly not as materially rich as the U.S. or the West, but it is rich in spirit. And it has made me reconsider what is most essential in this Christmas season. We in the West are so used to being distracted and even exhausted by the worldly enticements of Christmas. In fact, we might even go so far as to say that it is not Christmas without this or that “thing.” But if we think of that first Christmas in Bethlehem, it was so simple, so poor, and yet so rich in spirit. It was truly, “O Holy Night.” 

All of us could benefit from trying to simplify our Christmas so that Christ finds space in our hearts and minds to be filled with Him. Then we can bring Christ to others and become Christ for others. This is the only way that we can truly rebuild a culture of life, which is nothing less than the life of Christ Himself.