December 22, 2013 A View from the Rectory Window

During this Advent Season, it has been my prayer that we would grow in our faith and in our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. I truly believe that whatever it is that our hearts and souls desire, whether we realize it or not, our ultimate desire is Jesus Himself. For this reason, we can be filled with joy and consolation at Christmas when we know that all that we hoped for has been fulfilled in the person of the Christ Child.

Several years ago I received a Christmas card with this message: “This Christmas, I wish you Jesus.” On the inside it read: “Isn’t it nice to have everything!”

With Christmas coming seemingly so quickly this year, I think of the question I have asked and been asked, “Are you ready for Christmas?” How often, when asked this question, I immediately think, have I bought all the presents, finished the decorating, and wrote all the cards. In light of my advent prayer this year, the question has led me to ask, have I prepared myself, and helped others prepare to receive Jesus.

Meister Eckhart, a thirteenth century mystic and theologian, states: “Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, as God-made-man in time, but if his birth is not ‘reproduced’ in my soul, of what advantage is this celebration to me?” Likewise, Angela Sitesio, a sixteenth century mystic, writes: “Even if Christ were to be born a thousand times in Bethlehem, but is not born in my soul, I am lost forever.”

To enable us to receive Jesus, the Church’s liturgy provides us with those who appeared as main characters in the nativity story: a happy bride-to-be visited by an angel proclaiming she is pregnant with the Savior, an excited groom-to-be dreaming of the wedding day and discovering that his fiancé is pregnant, an earthly authority forcing this young mother to give birth to her child in a foreign place, shepherds, after a long day of heavy labor, resting in their fields, visited by angels and directed to leave behind their life’s work. Were they ready for Christmas?

They don’t seem to be ready to have a “perfect Christmas” in the 21st century term. However, their hearts seem more than ready to receive the gift of Jesus—their willingness to accept the unexpected plan of God that changed their expectations and plans, their obedience to let God work through them, and their willingness to meet the Savior even in moments that, in the least, would have been called inconvenient. They were indeed well ready for Christmas.

In this Christmas season, I joyfully and gratefully pray this benediction over you and all those you love:

May you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Jesus, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherd, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ Child. May you know Jesus and know the fullness of your heart’s and soul’s desire, now and forever.

Father Pete