Christmas Eve 2011

Well, it's Christmas again, another Christmas is upon us. Since October and November, we have seen stores put up their special displays and begin their Christmas specials. We are encouraged to buy, buy at every turn. Our children have to have the latest electronic gadgets and adults the biggest television sets… Our lives seem to be on a treadmill of rush, rush, rush and buy, buy, buy! We don't seem to have time for conversation, slower dining room eating or just plain relaxing...

Emotionally, too, many people place all their hopes on this one holiday. We have in our minds an idealized version of a "perfect" family and "perfect" relationships. We probably think that this one holiday can make our lives so much happier, and perhaps this is not to be so, [I mean] the joy and the effort to live a Christian life are for the entire year.

My brother, my sister, Jesus is the reason for the season and sadly our society and ourselves sometimes are focus on the wrong things, material things, possessions, designer clothes. As Catholic though, we have been preparing ourselves for this night through reflection, prayer and preparation for the Christ Child, Today and tomorrow we must make an effort even greater for keeping track of what's important: Jesus himself.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, we just hear at the first reading. What brought on the light in darkness? The answer is easy: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.

If we place all our hope in material things and fairy tale visions of a perfect Christmas without Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we will be really disappointed. Just look at the amazing images we're given in today's readings: first there is the image of the deep darkness of ignorance[1]. Then we are given the image of the great light for an announcement[2] and then the Luke's Gospel story with one of the most beautiful phrases in the whole gospel: The glory of the Lord shone around them. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest[3].

This is the true meaning of Christmas that God became a human being, that He took on human flesh that night so he would live as one of us, be crucified and rise from the dead to save us from our sins.

We say again and again that Christ is the Light of the World, but is he really our Light? Do we reflect his light and love in your lives?

My brother, my sister, whether you come to church frequently or not and especially if you only come on Christmas, pray for faith tonight. Pray that the Christ Child may come into your heart, transform it and give you a new life in Him. Pray for his Light to fill you with peace. Pray for his Light to have you reconcile yourself with estranged relatives, friends and neighbors.

When you receive Christ in communion tonight, pray for his grace and strength to do whatever he has called you to do. Pray this week that you may bring Christ's light and love into other peoples' lives, that you may reconcile with those you have had differences, that you may help someone through a difficult period in their lives or that you may be a "non anxious" presence for those who worry constantly or are distressed.

Whatever your Christmas is like, Jesus understands it and you fill it with his presence. There is no joy so great that Christ cannot raise it to greater heights, there is no disappointment so bitter so profound that he cannot come into it with the love he offers of eternal life and joy.

This is Christmas, the celebration of the birth of hope and joy in the Savior who is come and no one and nothing can stop. You are seeing and experiencing a great light tonight, let it shine in your heart and free your passion to be a Christian in a very broken world.

Merry or not at Christmas we always get a present: Christ's presence where we really are, and our hope of being where he is ■

[1] Is 9:1-6
[2] Ti 2:11-14
[3] Lk 2:1-14

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris