Christmas! That time of year when commerce goes crazy; that time of year when we are inundated with Christmas-themed commercials and the need for greed; that time of the year when Christmas, Ramadan, Kwanza, Hannukah, and even Festivus are all thrown into one secular politically correct category of "Winter Celebration." It can be so defeating and depressing. No wonder this time of the year suicides increase, mental depression heightens as psychologists feed the frenzy with more pity parties. It is all part of a fabric of society that denies God. We fail to understand that, like Jimmy Stewart, we don't realize what we have until we don't have it. With God as the focus for Christmas "It's a Wonderful Life!" because He is truly the Real Reason for the Season.
Christmas! The Birth of the Messiah, Emmanuel. We are at that time, and this year a great sadness also falls upon those who believe, who love the traditions of the Church and her Founder Jesus Christ. On the very spot where the angels sung Alleluia and sang out "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of good will" there stand tripods for rifles at the ready against sniping Israeli soldiers as Palestinian children weave and bob in zigzag fashion across streets to avoid any stray gunfire. On the very spot where the Word was made flesh through the total fiat of the Blessed Virgin Mary, tensions are so severe that Mass will be very lowkey this year for fear of an outbreak of violence. How sad that in the very place where God the Father chose to send His only-begotten Son born to the purest of Virgins chosen from all time, for the purpose of bringing Peace to all the earth, there is no peace. The Latin Patriarch His Beatitude Michel Sabbah said in his Christmas message this year that in Bethlehem it will be "a Christmas of war without pilgrims."
Just think, nine months ago we all marvelled at how Pope John Paul II was received by both Arab and Jew as he retraced the footsteps of Christ throughout the Holy Land. There he was enthusiastically greeted wherever he went from the shores of Galilee to the somber interior of the Holocaust memorial. The latter scene had to move the most hard-hearted of souls watching His Holiness slowly shuffle across the cold, stone engraved floor to receive the surviving Holocaust victims assembled, including those he personally saved from the Nazi deathknell. Hopes of peace were high back then. But, like the entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem with palms waving enthusiastically and Hosannas filling the air, the mood and hearts soon turned dark and the joy turned to sorrow on a stark, lonely hill called Calvary.
So also we are on that path and, as the world puts on artificial airs, we must all realize that sincerity can only be found in the hearts of those who truly live the peace the angels proclaimed in Luke 2: 14 for there are so few "men of good will" left on this earth.
This Christmas our prayer is that each and everyone of us recommit in our hearts to the mission of bringing Christ's Peace and Love to all: from our loved ones - which is easy, to the downtrodden and oppressed - which is more difficult. We must strive to extend Christ's Love to even those who really bug us, who oppose us, who throw obstacles at us, who ignore us, who demean us, who undermine us, who might even be our mortal enemy. The latter group is not easy to love. In fact, it is very, very difficult and takes a special person to rise above the fray and follow Our Lord's command. All we need to do is try to fulfill God's Will; He will do the rest. All we need to do is emulate the Holy Family; He will do the rest. All we need to do is say "yes" to the tiny Babe in the manger; He will do the rest.
And so, as we all huddle around the tree on Christmas morning exchanging gifts with those we love, remember those who may not have this opportunity, this comfort. Pause for a moment and contemplate that creche scene below or near your tree and remember that He came not for saints, but for sinners. Remember His words in John 10: 10 that He came "that they may have life, and have it more abundantly." Remember the entire Mystical Body of Christ which includes the unborn, the desolate, the oppressed, the poor, the downtrodden, the dying - all God's children. Remember the plight of others around this globe, those disenfranchised in the mideast and especially the Palestinian children in that special place where a Child was born 2000 years ago in the Little Town of Bethlehem.
On behalf of all at The DAILY CATHOLIC including our Chairman of the Board Don Geronime and the rest of the Board of Directors - Mary Lou Geronime, Kenneth and Leitner Greiner, Hank and Maxine Schlapkohl and Father Al Svobodny, OMI, I thank you for being a loyal reader, for striving to live as loyal Catholics, and I offer my prayers for each and everyone. I pray for God's Peace and Love to fill your hearts this Christmas. I pray that it will be the most blessed and grace-filled Christmas and carry with it the most virtuous of possibilities for the New Year.