Dear Parish Family,
Christmas has come. As the kids rip into brightly-wrapped packages and the adults enjoy too many cups of cheer, we might find ourselves breathing a sigh of relief. We have, perhaps, gotten more tired than we would like to admit of waiting in line at the store, listening to Christmas music, or finally finding just the right gift online only to realize it won’t ship in time. Singing Christmas carols wouldn’t be, “The 12th thing at Christmas that’s such a pain to me…”, if we, in fact, sang more than a couple verses and really listened to what we were singing. “Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing…” The joy to the world is something we will experience when we have welcomed the Christ Child into our hearts.
If we found less joy than we were hoping, we may not have spent much time, “preparing him room.” The decorating, baking, planning, and buying, buying, buying took up all our time. Fortunately, it’s not too late. The Church gives us three more feast days to celebrate the Birthday of Jesus. January 1 isn’t just the New Year, but it is also the the Octave day of Christmas, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, and a Holy Day of Obligation. January 6th is the feast of the Epiphany (the visit of the Magi). It is a traditional day in many cultures to give gifts and bless your home. Blessed chalk will be available next weekend for this tradition. And last but not least, the traditional final day for Christmas decorations is February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation, also known as Candlemas. These extra feasts allow us to linger in Bethlehem, meditating on the true meaning of Christmas and experiencing the peace and joy that only come from holding the Christ Child in our hearts.
“I would love to spend time in the stable with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” you might be saying, “if only some angels would appear and point out the way to me.” If your heart truly longs for Christ, then I will show you where to find him. At every Catholic Mass, the Word becomes flesh on the altar. The same Lamb of God that the shepherds sing, we sing to at Holy Mass. The same King that the wise men traveled far to worship, we worship when we travel to Holy Mass. The same Babe that filled the womb of Mary fills your heart when you receive Holy Communion. You see, you haven’t missed Christmas joy, it just turned out to be in the very last place you looked. And the Good News is that Christmas joy is here for you every Sunday. Come back to Mass next Sunday and you will find the Babe and his Mother here waiting for you. The Word made flesh, now in bread appearing, gives himself to us every Sunday. “O Come, let us Adore Him!”
Peace and Christmas joy,
Fr. Joel Sember