Week of 12/25/2017
Merry Christmas!! Christmas in our culture evokes many images and thoughts; trees, presents, egg nog, etc. But the most important human image, or really action, that brings out the central meaning of Christmas are those that embed Christ at center. The angels, shepherds, and three Kings all came to worship Christ; to pay Him homage. They knelt before Him; worshipped Him. That was their ultimate gift. God’s gift to us: to repair the most catastrophic act of man’s original sin two thousand years ago. He became man. He took on indescribable suffering to reopen the gates of heaven that man had freely closed. Christ was born to bear the boundless contempt of our sins in order to lovingly heal and save us from eternal loss. It is explicit worship of Christ, through kneeling before Him at Mass and confession, that becomes the greatest gift of mankind.
As Christmas approaches, we reflect: it remains an incredible joy, mystery, consolation, yet dramatic challenge that God is born as a defenseless baby to rescue us from the power of the devil. This is the central point in history. Thus, if God acts so radically, my response cannot be routine; it must likewise be radical!! To be a real disciple of Jesus Christ means to definitively alter my life to greater devotion to our Blessed Lord. To engage in a personal encounter with Christ is to be transformed; by joy, by relief, by consolation that God wishes me to join Him in paradise forever, and that He will pour Himself out on the Cross, suffering pain that no human being before or since ever suffered, because of Divine love.
But in turn, radical love given demands a radical love returned. St. Mother Teresa spoke many times of rescuing someone dying on the street, who suddenly embraces God because they realize what God offers them. How do I fire up the engine in my soul to embrace God more radically and achieve a happiness the world cannot give? The basics, as Our Lord tells us, are Holy Mass every Sunday, a full confession, and daily prayer. Coupled with almsgiving; that is, giving ourselves to the neglected and poor with food, monetary support, and our presence. We know we “feel good” after such activities. But, it is not because we are doing good things, it is because we conform ourselves to Christ. Our soul is slowly transformed, and the fire of God’s love burns brighter and more palpa- bly. But key: the true spiritual value of our good works is directly proportional to how deep is our union with Christ and His timeless teachings on faith and morality.
So, as we grab the egg nog, let us challenge ourselves to radically respond. Let’s end with some magnificent words from Pope St. Leo the Great in the fifth century:
Dearly beloved, today our Savior is born; let us rejoice. Sadness should have no place on the birthday of life. The fear of death has been swallowed up; life brings us joy with the promise of eternal happiness. No one is shut out from this joy; all share the same reason for rejoicing. Our Lord, victor over sin and death, finding no man free from sin, came to free us all. Let the saint rejoice as he sees the palm of victory at hand. Let the sinner be glad as he receives the offer of forgiveness. Let the pagan take courage as he is summoned to life. Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget
that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.
Special thanks to our Knights of Columbus and Pro life committee for tremendous work in sponsoring St. Nick in the gym two weeks ago after Masses with egg sandwiches and coffee and… 300 sandwiches gone! Special thanks also to our incredible adult and children’s choirs led by our music director Carolina Flores and organist/pianist Aymeric Dupre. A great concert with a wonderful turnout; beauty that brings us more deeply into Christ.
God love you,
Fr. Brian Gannon