|"A Savior is born for us" - Bishop Lennon's Christmas message / U.B. column|
Receiving and reading this issue of the Catholic Universe Bulletin dated December 23 reminds us of just how close the celebration of Christmas is at this point! Less than forty eight hours and we will be hearing the joyous message, TODAY A SAVIOR IS BORN FOR US.
All of us are well aware of the story of the first Christmas as we have heard since our earliest days and have often told it to others ourselves. We know well how Jesus the Son of God and the Son of Mary was born a baby who would be our Savior. A Savior who came to bring God and all people into a relationship of love which would stretch forever into everlasting happiness.
The following prayer from one of the Prefaces in the Missal sums this up very well: "…for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven."
I trust most if not all people who read the paragraph above hope and pray that that message can and will be said of them by God Himself as He finds us His faithful.
A perfect day to reflect upon what it means to be faithful is Christmas itself. Christmas invites all of us to enter into the mystery of Christmas. The mystery being that God gave us His Son as a man like us in all things, save for sin, so that we may experience divinity in communion with God. This mystery is so great that Christmas Day cannot be just like any other day. It demands from us a special response.
It would be a tragedy to be so busy or distracted on Christmas that there is no time to respond as Mary did on the first Christmas as we are told "Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart." She appreciated what had happened as the Angel had prophesized "the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."
Certainly the most appropriate way to anchor our Christmas Day is to center Christmas with the quality of our participation at Mass where we thank God for all that he has done and continues to do on our behalf. Also, where we have the privilege by God's love and graciousness to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ just as truly and really as He was as a baby in the manger. All the mystery of our faith, may it set the tone for our Christmas celebration. There is no better way to grow in gratitude for what the first Christmas was all about than centering our Christmas Day around the celebration of Holy Mass.
As we reflect upon the goodness and holiness of God as He reached into our human situation by sending His Son to be one with us, save for sin, we are also challenged to raise ourselves with God's grace to fulfill the Lord's teaching "Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect" and the teaching of St. Peter "Be Holy as your Father is Holy."
On our own such challenges can be daunting and even beyond us; however with God all things are possible. Jesus even gave us the Sacrament of Penance to help us in our journey through life by reestablishing our relationship with God when sin has ruptured the relationship. True gratitude must never presume upon God's goodness; true gratitude strives to respond to God in faith and in obedience to His teachings, which the Sacrament of Penance in a graced way helps us to grow in "holiness".
Lastly, as we celebrate Christmas Our Holy Father Pope Benedict reminds us in his General Audience of December 20, 2006 that "It is the task of us Christians, with the witness of our life, to spread the truth of Christmas which Christ brings to every man and woman of good will." It is task to live in faith what we profess about God so that experiencing our integrity of life people may witness the peace and joy of Christmas which we live with commitment and zeal.
Christmas Blessings to one and all this Christmas Day and throughout the New Year.