I have always had a love/hate relationship with Christmas.  All the anticipation and preparation seems to be unwrapped, eaten and over in a flash and all that is left the day after Christmas is a mess of strewn gifts, bits of wrapping paper and indigestion. What should just be the beginning of the season of Christmas often leaves me with a vague sadness and a feeling that there must be something more…. The reality is that no worldly preparation for Christmas can ever exceed the meticulous preparation God the Father undertook to prepare the world for the gift of Jesus, born in the flesh.  For over two millennium the Lord prepared the hearts of the people of Israel to receive their Messiah, gradually revealing Himself, his love, and his plan for our salvation.   The gift of our Lord and Savior is not something we can unwrap in an instance.  It is not a gift that we may use for a time and wear out or discard.  It is not a gift that brings disappointment.  The gift of Jesus’ birth meets our deepest needs.     As Saint John Paul II describes so perfectly, the gift of Jesus’ birth meets all of our longings for “freedom and peace.”  Rather than imposing an additional burden on us, Christmas offers us relief from the “burden of sin”, the weight of which we all struggle under. Finally, the “Word made flesh” is the source of all of our hope.   This Christmas, after the seven fishes are eaten, the gifts opened and the family gone home, what remains in my heart is a deep gratitude to the Lord for entering the mess of this world, of my world and the words that are on my lips are not ones of exhaustion and melancholy but the joyful song of the angels: “Glory to God