December 24, 2017

Happy 4th Sunday of Advent: This advent season I have preached on the idea of preparing the way of the Lord by deepening our understanding of Church. As I have said, it is the normative way God enters our lives on a day-to-day basis, most especially via the sacraments. Yet, it−the Church−is so much more. It is us, we are the Church! It is our daily living and loving of our

brothers, sisters, and neighbors. The Church is all encompassing. It can be with us, supporting and sustaining us, at every moment of our lives. I hope that this Advent season has been a true experience of growing in your knowledge of the Church so that you have made ready the way of the Lord and are prepared for the awesome gift that comes with the birth of Jesus who is true God, true man, and head of His body the Church.

Merry Christmas! On behalf of Father Daniel, Father Elmer, the parish staff and in my own name, I extend to you our prayerful best wishes this Christmas day and Season. Merry Christmas. May the true meaning of Christmas rest deeply within your heart so that it may refresh you the whole year through.

This Advent we have been preparing the way for this moment. So, what does this day bring? The answer is the simplest of words whose meaning is as deep as any mystery of God. Love. Yes, love is the gift that Christmas brings. It is a gift we can choose to accept and should not return for an exchange! It is a gift that will feed, fuel and inspire us. It is a gift that the more we share the more it gives back in the process (so we should re-gift it). Nevertheless, it is a gift that does require some “assembly.”

What do I mean by that? Well, love is something that is freely offered to us by God, but we must first allow ourselves to accept such a gift. For many, that is not an easy thing to do. Let us pray for all people who find themselves struggling with the belief that they are worthy of such great love. Once accepted, many people find it difficult to share true unconditional love with others. Let us remember these people in prayer as well, for the idea of giving away so great a treasure as one’s love, asking nothing in return, is a frightening thought to many. Love is also sacrificial. Because making sacrifice isn’t part of our current culture it is difficult for many to properly share the Love Christmas brings. Let us pray for all those who are burdened by fear and selfishness and unable to offer sacrifice for others.

Love: the greatest of all gifts. Love: the gift of Christmas. Love: our lived experience of Church and the result of our participation in the Mass. Wait. What? Participating in Mass is about love? Yes! The Mass is our place to receive Love, learn about Love, and be strengthened to share Love. Our On Mission prayer tells us this when we pray to “learn Jesus, love Jesus, and live Jesus.” It’s a Christmas message. If you haven’t been to Mass recently, or don’t come faithfully, I invite you to return. Return to the place where love is always present, always flowing. This weekly respite from the world is the means by which we are strengthened to carry out our Christian duty to love the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves. If you have prepared the way for the Lord this Advent, then reward yourself with the continual gift which is brought into our lives through the Church, specifically through the Mass. Thank you for celebrating Christmas Mass with us. I look forward to celebrating every Sunday and Holy Day Mass with you too, as we continue to receive the great Christmas gift of God’s true and unconditional love. Merry Christmas.

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