Estranged from God, man has no inner peace. Augustine’s often quoted words on the first page of his Confessions, “Thou madest us for thyself, and our heart is restless until it repose in Thee,” speak with special force to this generation with its wandering yet wistful search for identity and security. Despite vast scientific and technological achievement, the society in which we live has missed its way. Its position is like that in which, at the beginning of The Divine Comedy, Dante pictured himself as standing: “In the midway of this our mortal life, I found me in a gloomy wood astray, gone from the path direct.” In an age of breathless change, the very rapidity of material progress, by itself morally and spiritually neutral, is carrying almost a whole generation that is already set on a course divergent from God, away from him at frightening speed.

To such a spiritually homeless generation and in such a time, Christmas 1963 speaks in deepest meaning of the incredible humility and love of God in invading the world of men through the Incarnation. And its message is to call this wayward generation home, just as it has, since our Lord’s birth, called every other generation home.

Of the great days of the church year, Christmas is most intimately related to the family. Reverently we might almost apply to it the German word, gemütlich, which, without precise counterpart in English, describes the warmly affectionate feeling primarily associated with home.

When Christ in sovereign condescension “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7), he did this by coming into a family. That is why, in spite of the increasing perversion of Christmas for material gain ...

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