for Saturday, December 25, 2021
Merry Christmas, everyone. May the Peace of Christ that draws us to the
humble stable of Bethlehem, fill our minds and hearts. May our families have peace.
May our country and our Church have peace.
Every year brings with it unexpected blessings, and unexpected challenges.
This year has been no different than any other. No matter what life has brought us,
there is something extremely beautiful that at the end of the year we are celebrating
our reason for hope.
Jesus the Christ has been born! The eternal Second Person of the Holy Trinity,
the Word of God, has become flesh and dwelt among us.
What does this birth in a stable mean to me, to you, to the world? It means that
mankind's reality is being drastically changed. Before Jesus, man was merely a
physical being. He was created to be physical and spiritual, but he forfeited his
capacity for the spiritual to the power of evil. The grasp of evil is still experienced in
many people turning to the secular values of life to find hope, fulfillment and salvation.
Glamour, fame, power, prestige and money preoccupy much of their attention and
energy. Many people, and perhaps, to some degree all of us, look for hope in the
Jesus Christ is the source of hope. His life is the antithesis of those secular
values that so many grasp and that lead so many to despair. He is the King of Kings,
yet He is born in a stable. Our nativity scenes often whitewash the fact that stables are
dirty places, stinky places. We contemplate Jesus in a manger for his throne, but we
forget that a manger is a place for animals to get their food. The One who is the
source of hope makes it clear from the first moments of his life outside of his mother
that hope is found in God, not in materialism of any sort. Isn't it sad that many have
transformed the day we celebrate the birth of a child in a stable into a celebration of
materialism? When St. Francis of Assisi, the man who embraced Lady Poverty, built
the first nativity scene in 1223 in Grecio, Italy, he called upon people to celebrate the
life of the Poor One who was in fact our Savior.
Jesus Christ is our Savior. His name, Jesus, means God saves. We needed to
have our capacity for the spiritual restored. We needed to be saved from eternal
death. We needed to be saved from the power of evil, the dominance of Satan. How?
How is it that He saves us? Jesus responded to the hatred of the devil with the Love of
God. He let evil do its worst to Him, out of obedience to the Father and love for those
creatures made in God's image and likeness. He was born and placed in a manger so
He could die on a cross.
Satan, the one who had been Lucifer, the Light Bearer, wanted to be like God.
He and his evil followers were cast out of heaven by another angel, Michael, whose
name means "Who can be like God?" Satan than waged war on the creature made in
the image and likeness of God. He told Adam, mankind, Eve, mother of the living, and
the rest of us that if we immerse ourselves in the material we could be like God, gods
ourselves. But the result of our pushing God out of our lives was radically different
than expected. It did not make us gods. Instead our world was filled with hatred, and
death. Even worse, infinitely worse, we no longer possessed the life of God, the
But God still loved us. Satan's plan was to use God's love for us against Him. If
God were to become a man, the devil would destroy Him with hatred and death.
Surely, mankind would realize how powerless God was and how powerful Satan was.
Perhaps Satan thought that he could then conquer heaven. But the death of the Word
made Flesh did not bring about a triumph of hatred. It brought a triumph of love. And
Satan saw those creatures who had forfeited the spiritual, have their spiritual lives
restored. "Who can open the Book of God's Plan?" the angel in the Book of Revelation
calls out. Only the Lamb who was slain could do that. The birth of the child in the
manger, Jesus, the Savior, resulted in the Triumph of God. Love conquers all.
Today is a day of love. It is a day when families and friends express their deep
love for each other. The gifts we give each other are mere tokens of our love for each
other. We want to love today. But sin holds us back from loving. We cannot truly love
the brother, the sister, the parent, the child, for whom we still harbor a grudge. The
sinful person cannot love. Sin and love cannot coexist. But, sin can be and will be
forgiven by the Savior. The thought that has been playing in my mind throughout
Advent is that we cannot love the child in the manger unless we trust the man on the
cross. Jesus came to forgive sins. He came to restore life. He came to restore love.
In the Church we have a season for Christmas and a season for Easter. We
prepare for each by Advent and Lent. But really, there is just one celebration. That
one celebration is the celebration of our salvation, the celebration of the Life that
makes all life worth living.
"Pax Christi!" we shout out today and every day. May the Peace of Christ come
upon you and remain with you forever. And what is this peace? It is not the cessation
of wars, although we continually pray for an end of all war. It is not complete harmony
in all our families, although we continually pray that our families be at peace. The
peace of Christ is that which flows from union with God. The more we keep God in the
center of our lives, then the greater that we will experience the peace of His Son.
A child is born for us today. A Savior is given to us. He restores our spiritual
life. He gives our lives meaning and purpose and fulfillment. May we view every
challenge and every joy from the perspective of the One who is the Center of all
Creation. It is here for us. It is here for you. It is here for me. He is here for us. He is
here for you. He is here for me. We can have peace. If we keep God in the center of
our lives, we will have peace, a peace infinitely greater than any the world could
May the Peace of Christ be with you!
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Isaiah 9.2-4, 6-7
Second Reading: Titus 2.11-14
Gospel: Luke 2.1-16
This material is used with permission of its author, Rev. Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino, Diocese of St. Petersburg, FL. Visit his
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