Celebrating the holidays — and every day

Dec 16, 2019 by

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Celebration is what we are called to. We are called to practice joy by celebrating. What we have to learn is how to celebrate life.

Celebrating life is not a party but an awareness that every moment is special and asks to be lifted up and recognized as a blessing.

To celebrate means to lift up the moment and say, “This is God’s moment.” To celebrate is to lift up today and say, “This is the day the Lord has made!”

Celebration doesn’t mean to celebrate only the good moments. Ecstatic joy embraces all of life and does not shy from painful moments, departures and even death. Death is celebrated not because it is desirable but because death has no final power over us.

We can celebrate pain, not because pain is good but because we can pray with it and break bread together. Difficult moments can be lifted up. We lift them up in gratitude.

Celebration is really an expression of gratitude. Even pain, struggles, war, all of that, is somehow not the final power. God is a God of the Living. “You shall have life and life abundantly.”

The more we celebrate, the more we realize we are in communion. To celebrate is to create community. It is the first sign of the kingdom proclaimed among us. Celebration is the way in which faith in the God of Life is lived out, whether there are smiles or tears. Celebration reveals the deep undercurrent of joy that flows beneath all of our ups and downs.

Jesus rewards us with joy. Not only in the happy moments but also in our sorrow. Joy is hidden in our suffering and revealed in our communal life.

Excerpted from Following Jesus: Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety (Convergent, 2019), drawn from talks given by the Catholic priest and theologian while he was teaching at Harvard Divinity School.

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