One of my fellow countrymen, Rabindranath Tagore, who won the Nobel Prize for literature, wrote: “Every child comes with the message that God is not disappointed with humanity.” As we come to the Feast of Christmas we realize how true those words are because the Son of God comes to us with the definitive message of hope. St John put it beautifully: “God so loved the world that He sent His only Son so that those who believe in Him will be given the power to become the children of God” (John 3:16). You can call it a one verse summary of the whole history of salvation. It says it all. God has given humanity a unique gift, definitive and unrepeatable. No other gift is necessary. God has said it all in His Son. Jesus is the sacrament of God’s saving presence among us. He is the ultimate gift of God’s validation of our human family.
In certain religions, God is either distant or absent. In those faiths God is seen as someone to be appeased, someone we should be afraid of. In our Christian faith God is not far away; He is with us – He is Emmanuel, God with us. He gives Himself to us in the Eucharist and makes His home with us. Such a thought should carry us through our days, good and bad, happy and sad. With St Paul we cry out, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” He makes Himself little. The God of the Universe becomes a helpless, little baby. He has come so close to us that we can adore Him as we hold Him. In Jesus we are enabled to see, hear and touch God Himself.
If we can capture the spirit of this season in one word, that word will be “gift.” Of course our super-commercialized culture emphasizes giving because half of consumer spending happens over the holidays. As we try to resist the pressures of the marketplace, it is so easy to forget the heart of giving. We give to others because God gave us first. God gives without expecting anything in return. God gifts His Son to all with no exceptions. The Father makes the sun rise on the just and the unjust. God gives and gives till it hurts. God’s gift reaches its apex on Mount Calvary.
And so let us give gifts to each other. Let us give gifts of love and forgiveness, of acceptance and reconciliation. In a special way, let us give the gift of time, the gift of our presence. Let us give gifts particularly to those in our family circle. Let us also give to those who have so little in life. In that spirit of generosity let us open our wallets and our hearts to lessen the burden of need smothering the backs of our brothers and sisters across the globe. Let us lift up our hearts in prayer for those who have no home to call their own – the refugees, the immigrants, the homeless and the poor – and for those living in the midst of war and violence.
And to the God who gave us His Son, let us give thanks. This Christmas please take some time to count your blessings and offer thanks and praise to our Ultimate Benefactor. Thank God for the gift of Jesus. Thank God for the gift of faith. Thank God for the gift of life. Thank God for the gift of love. Thank God for the gift of forgiveness. Thank God for the gift of Church. Thank God for the gift of our parish. Thank God for the gift of each and every person in your life.
Please accept my heartfelt wishes for a Blessed Christmas and a grace-filled New Year. I will pray for each and every one of you in my Christmas Masses that God will give you peace and joy this season and all through 2017!
As you celebrate Christmas this year, may the prayer of Robert Louis Stevenson become our own:
O God, our loving Father, help us rightly to remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every good gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clean hearts.
May Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven. For Jesus' sake. Amen.
As we think of gifts and giving, I want to thank you for all the ways you give to our parish. We depend on your generosity. I appreciate all that you do to build up a part of God’s Kingdom that is St Paul of the Cross. I thank God for you and pray for you.
God love you!
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...