A Christmas word

I have discovered a Christmas word. This little word that has become part of our everyday life like never before. I come across it again and again, and I often use it myself. It helps us to interpret the new situation the world finds itself in, to rebound from the changes and it encourages us to carry on. It is like a little helper and stimulates our creativity. Sometimes, though, I can't stand hearing it anymore, because it's also a little exhausting or even painful. It's getting a lot of wear and tear at the moment and every now and then it looks pretty battered. Especially when it is said but not meant. When the person using it doesn’t enjoy the creativity and possibilities opening up.

And as I was thinking about this little word, it occurred to me that it is a Christmas word. This word that has entered our everyday life is not a new word like CORONA, INCIDENCE RATE and all the other strange words that are new to us. It is the old familiar DIFFERENT: Everything is different this year.

Now you may be wondering what’s supposed to be Christmassy about this word? It is a word for the mystery of Christmas. It is even the essence of Christmas. As Christians we believe that God became human. That is what we celebrate at Christmas, that is what makes this night holy. And it doesn't matter whether it was on that exact date or not. God became human. And that changed the world, our faith, our whole humanity. Everything changed that night. "God" is the term for the inconceivable, unspeakable and incomprehensible. With His incarnation, He made Himself comprehensible. People could see Him, touch Him and hear Him. And this mystery did not take place in a dignified palace, in a famous city, among the noble, the wise and the distinguished. It was very different from what you might imagine: outside the city, where the outsiders are, in a poor stable, a manger as a cradle. The whole thing was anything but idyllic, not like our nativity scenes make you believe.

But not only the outside was different. Jesus showed us the fatherly side of God. He taught us to believe and trust in the love of God. He healed people, he turned to the marginalised, he proclaimed that the kingdom of God was near, in our midst. People noticed that his interpretation of the Holy Scriptures was different, one that is for the people. How important the incarnation of God became to people shows the fact that even our calendar refers to it: AD (anno Domini) or CE (common era)
Now sceptics say that nothing has changed in this world. There is still all the negativity in the world and some even have the feeling that it is more than ever.

Nevertheless, I am convinced that something very important has changed: We are allowed to take a different perspective on everything that happens. We don’t have to be afraid of what is different. An essential passage in the Gospels is: "Do not be afraid!" and subsequently everything changes: Mary becomes pregnant through the Holy Spirit, Joseph, her bridegroom, nevertheless stands by her, shepherds discover a new born baby in their stable, people are healed, people change their lives ...

With Christmas, everything changes - though not necessarily externally, because the world continues as before. There is no great miracle, no snap of the fingers and no magic formulas that bring about a great change. It's probably more the different perspective from which we look at life, our lives. And that is why DIFFERENT is a Christmas word. Perhaps that will help us especially this year.
I wish you a blessed different Christmas!

Sr. Katharina Horn

"If it does you good, then come!"


(St. Francis of Assisi)