December 22, 2013
Have you ever heard these negative comments: Christmas is nothing but a big spending spree;Think of cards, gifts, toys, decorations, food and drink; Christmas raises false hopes, especially among the poor, the lonely and the depressed; instead of bringing us together, Christmas makes ants out of us, fighting each other for the best bargains; Christmas puts more pressure on husband and wife, that means there are more separation and more divorce at this time; Christmas does a disservice to our religion; it’s getting less Christian every year; it’s a pagan feast. It’s a waste of time, effort and money…so on.
Do you agree with these comments? Well, sometimes I thought so, but Christmas also has its positive effects in our life.
Christmas recalls the greatest event of all time: theIncarnation. This means that God’s Son came to bring us peace and live among us. Jesus is the King of Peace. During the Vietnam War we had only 2 days of ceasefire a year: Christmas Day and Traditional New Year’s Day. We really longed for those days. Now at this Christmas, there is still war in the world, but Christians all over will pray for peace and hopefully it will come with the Lord.
Of course there is a lot of loneliness at Christmas, but Christ comes to share this loneliness with us. It is when we are lonely we can reach out to him and bring him to others who are lonelier than we are. There is also a great deal of togetherness at Christmas too. There is a great out-pouring of goodwill. People we have forgotten during the rest of the year are remembered. Scattered families are reunited (This is what I miss).
The poor are most taken care of at this time of the year than any other time. Christmas encourages generosity and gives people an opportunity to gift sharing with the less fortunate.
I admit that there are some excesses in eating and drinking. But it is right that people should be happy and celebrate at this time (Remember Moderation is a Virtue!). Christ comes among us with his gifts of hope, joy, peace and light. It is no time for long faces.
I don’t agree for one moment that Christmas is devoid of religious meaning. I think it acts as a great spiritual tonic to many people. The churches are overflowing. Many prodigals come back for good (at least for a day). But even one day, they experience the warmth of God’s house, God’s love and God’s community.
I know that commercialism is rampart at this time. But this shouldn’t surprise us or get us down. Christ told us that there will be weeds among wheat right until the judgment day. But this doesn’t mean that we have to leave the whole field to them. We must go on to sow the good seed. Christmas is a marvelous opportunity to this.
Someone says, “Christmas has no room for Christ.” But let us never forget that there was no room for him either at the first time he came. The inn-keeper refused to take him in, he still came anyway for those who were waiting for him. Even if our world has little room for Christ, he still comes. He comes to all those who, like Mary, Joseph and the shepherds, are ready to welcome him. He will come to us too. All we need is to make a little space for him in the manger of our heart.
Christmas is also a time to give thanks. First of all we thank God for the gift of Jesus. That gift is the most precious of all.(Don’t forget to pick up a gift from your parish after Christmas Mass). Then we thank the people who have done good things to us or have good impacts on our lives. As a pastor, I would like to thank all of you for continually supporting me in this parish. Without you I would not fulfill my vocation as a priest. I especially thank staff and those who are working closely with me and Fr. Matthew in different ministries. I can do something but I can’t do it all. You are the extended hands of Jesus to serve this community. You have given time, talent and treasure to the parish much more than I do.
Another thing I should mention is your generosity. Thank you for your contributions to the finance of the parish and to help the victims of flood and typhoon in Medicine Hat, in High River and in the Philippines. Thank you again.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year