Rev. Massingale Speaks About the Meaning of Christmas on ABC News

Finding joy and hope at the end of a grief-stricken year



Massingale shared his best Christmas homily with ABC News viewers. To those watching, he said, “Christmas can remind us of our shared humanity and maybe that’s what we need to recover, especially after a year like we’ve had.”


Fordham professor and theologian Rev. Bryan Massingale, S.J., was invited to appear on ABC News the morning of Dec. 25 to speak about the meaning of Christmas with Will Ganss, a TV producer and reporter at ABC. The interview was recorded at the Fordham University Church, located in the Bronx. Although the two were not wearing masks, they appeared to be six feet apart.   

“Christmas is the story of telling us that there’s no place where God chooses not to be,” Massingale said. 

Not only is Massingale a leader in the field of theological ethics, but he also strives to be a “scholar-activist” and is a noted authority on issues of social and racial justice. He has spoken about the Church’s ties to racism and white privilege multiple times.

He began by describing his “best Christmas homily,” which centered around the addiction humans have to remote controls; Massingale expressed his dissatisfaction for the lack of human effort and mobility this device has permitted. 

Massingale believes that the significance of Christmas rests in its complete disconnect from the remote control. 

“Christmas celebrates the fact that we do not have a God who relates to us remotely. There is no separation between divinity and humanity,” he said.

Due to the recent surge in coronavirus cases around the world, some Christmas celebrations were conducted differently this year. Whether they were socially distanced, masked or canceled altogether, the tone of the holiday season stood in stark contrast to earlier years due to the grief and loneliness caused by the pandemic.

To balance these emotions and find joy in this holiday, Massingale reminded those who are grieving this year that nothing was planned in the Christmas story. Mary had an unexpected pregnancy and Jesus was born in a stable because there was no room in the inn; he used these events to emphasize that God does not come into our lives when everything is “picture-perfect.” 

“It’s not about the pretty decorations,” Massingale said. “It’s about something much deeper. Christmas can remind us of our shared humanity and maybe that’s what we need to recover, especially after a year like we’ve had.”

Aside from this segment, ABC also held its annual “Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Celebration” from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Dec. 25, which included heartwarming stories and celebrity performances. This celebration was organized in collaboration with Disney Parks, ABC and Endeavor Content’s Film 45. Throughout the month of December, the news channel released episodes for a reality show called “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” in which families across the country competed for the best Christmas light display. 

Fordham University released its own Christmas video on the morning of Dec. 25, featuring members of the Fordham community virtually “passing the light” and concluding with University President Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., delivering Fordham’s message for the holiday season.