“Holy infant so tender and mild.” “Silent night, holy night.” “Infant, holy, infant lowly.” “Pour over me your holiness, for you are holy… Breath of heaven.” During December, we sing the word “holy” often enough to lead us to believe there is something “holy” about Christmas.
While we may harbor some negative, smug connotations when we hear the word “holy,” I suspect that each one of us has a deep desire to be holy, even if we feel we’ll never get there. Mary was holy. She wasn’t perfect, but she kept her mind focused on God, she avoided things not pleasing to God, she strove for a match between the will of God and her daily routine; she examined her motives, she thought carefully about God before she acted, she imagined her body to be a vessel for God to dwell in, and to use.
What does Jesus want for Christmas? The first face he saw was Mary’s – so his first Christmas gift was the holy, tender face of his mother. Jesus wants us to be holy, or at least to try. He wants us to be “good,” not in that loose sense of generally “doing the right thing” in society’s eyes, or not breaking the law. Holy, as in my thoughts, words and actions are watched carefully by God, so I try to keep them in sync with God. I want to be clean. I don’t mind my behavior being an open book – for it certainly is to God.
“O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray.” And what do we sing next? “Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.” This is what Jesus wants for Christmas: to begin to become holy.