“Beloved: The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.”
These words of St. Paul say it all. Grace became flesh! Jesus Christ is born! Why? To free us, save us, lead us and change our hearts so that we can live for the good of others. We will say ‘Merry Christmas’ many times during this season of Christmas, but perhaps we should be saying “Thank you Jesus!”
As we hear the word devoutly from St. Paul, I can’t help but think of St. Francis de Sales, who desires that each of us be devout and give our lives to others in love. In a few days, on December 28, the Church will celebrate his 400th anniversary of death. Pope Francis is inviting us to celebrate our patron saint worldwide, especially as he helped to bring so many people back to the Catholic Church. In this spirit, I encourage you to not be afraid, with the intercession of St. Francis de Sales, to welcome people back home. Our parish is offering Catholics Returning Home this year beginning on January 10th @ 7:15. Come back home.
Speaking of Pope Francis, while many of our children will be opening up many gifts this year, our Pope is inviting us to not forget the people of Ukraine. He said, “It is good to celebrate Christmas, to have parties—but let’s lower the level of Christmas spending…Let’s send what we save to the Ukrainian people, who are in need, suffering so much; they go hungry, they feel the cold, and so many die because there are no doctors, nurses at hand.” He said the ongoing war in Ukraine does not mean we should forget about celebrating Christmas altogether, but we should do so “with Ukrainians in our hearts.” So many gifts become forgotten just weeks after. Giving this kind of gift will never be forgotten.
In light of this, I want to share some words of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen on what Christmas can really do in our world….
“How to find Christmas peace in a world of unrest? You cannot find peace on the outside but you can find peace on the inside, by letting God do to your soul what Mary let Him do to her body, namely, let Christ be formed in you….As He was physically formed in her, so He wills to be spiritually formed in you. If you knew He was seeing through your eyes, you would see in every fellowman a child of God. If you knew that He worked through your hands, they would bless all the day through. If you knew He spoke through your lips, then your speech, like Peter’s, would betray that you had been with the Galilean. If you knew that He wants to use your mind, your will, your fingers, and your heart, how different you would be. If half the world did this there would be no war!”
Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let earth receive her King! Are you open to allowing Christ to be formed in you so that peace can come to the world through you? Let Christmas happen within you this year!