Christmas and the Moral Life
By Father Kenneth Wasilewski
The familiar symbols and images of Christmas, coupled with our personal and liturgical celebrations, can give us a sense of comfort and belonging as we experience them. Or, they might awaken in us a longing to know these things, perhaps as we have in the past or as others seem to. 
Sometimes we experience a little bit of both comfort and longing. These very human experiences reveal something about what we’re made for and how we’re made. The gift of the Christ child reminds us of the unfathomable love God has for us and the lengths to which He’ll go to demonstrate it. 
That child also reminds us of God’s closeness and His desire to be with us. But reflecting more deeply on Christ’s birth also reminds us of the inescapable and persistent need we have for God. We need this child to find our way home — that place we were created for. We are lost without Him. 
We need the help and direction only He can provide. We need the gifts that only He offers which make this journey possible. We need the teaching, wisdom and example that He gives to light the way. 
There has never been another child born who is a savior ... only Him.  It is precisely because of our inability to get to God on our own that makes Christmas not just a reality, but a necessity for us — a necessity if our experiences of comfort and belonging are to transcend the fleeting moments of seasons and celebrations and fulfill once and for all our deepest longings.
While none of us can ever extricate ourselves from needing a savior, each of us can make choices which will either cooperate with that gift and make the journey a smoother, surer one, or which can make that trip home a much more difficult and arduous one. 
Indeed, it is a sobering realization that we have the power to make choices which can lead us further and further away from our true home. This reality is one reason why the Church has always insisted on the importance of the moral life for the Christian. It’s not that we have the power to save ourselves by living according to a certain moral code (thus making a savior irrelevant), but rather, living morally enables us to better cooperate with the gift of salvation we’re offered. 
Living morally helps to keep us on the path that leads to our destiny while avoiding the pitfalls and wrong turns that can carry us further away from God and make it more difficult to know and to love Him, and more difficult to hear His voice speaking to our hearts. It enables us to more and more inwardly resemble the child in the manger. 
 Our wills and our choices begin to look more and more like His will and choices. He becomes ever more familiar to us, not because we recognize the symbols of this season or can recall the stories from memory, but because our souls are coming to resemble His soul ever more — souls in complete harmony with the Father. 
With every good moral choice we construct another manger in our hearts for the Christ child to rest in. With every virtue that is grown in us, Christ takes on new flesh in the world — flesh that He gifted us with for just this purpose. Making good moral choices enables us to be better and better testimonies to what we celebrate at Christmas. 
While living the moral life of a Christian cannot in and of itself ever substitute for the salvation that only Christ brings, that salvation is never fully accepted apart from that moral life. This Christmas may we resolve to give others a greater experience of Christ in their lives by deepening the commitment we make to living our own moral lives well.