Friday, January 1, 2010


(Number 6:22-27; Gal 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21)

It would seem to be only a coincidence. Nevertheless, it happens every year. Around Christmas there is a rash of funerals. Most pastors with experience can confirm this reality. In spite of our best attempts to create a heaven on earth at this time of year, people continue to suffer and die.

The truth of the matter is that Christmas can either bring hopeful promise or bitter disillusion. The real problem is not that physically sick people let go of life at Christmas. It is that spiritually sick people are blind to the maladies affecting them. God sends His son to save us from our sins. But we must acknowledge our sinfulness and ask God’s pardon. That is, we must repent of the evil in our hearts that may result in our moral demise. Only by so doing, can we accept the salvation that God offers in his new-born son.

In the gospel today, we see three groups of people receiving the good news of Jesus’ birth in different ways. First, the shepherds hear from the angels that a savior is born and act on the message. They go to Bethlehem to see the child who is their Lord and King. They also tell others of what has taken place to fulfill the Gospel call to evangelize. We may see ourselves as these shepherds. After all we come to church today in order to worship our savior. Let us not forget to testify to others all that God has done for us. Have you ever had a prayer answered? Probably it has happened frequently. Then don’t be reluctant to tell even cynics of how God has blessed you.

The second group that we encounter is the people who are amazed at what the shepherds tell them but fail to move with the good news. Rather, like others later in the gospel who witness Jesus’ mighty deeds, they cut short their acceptance of him. We can understand these resisters as representative of the millions who celebrate Christmas with tinsel, mistletoe, and perhaps attendance at midnight mass but avoid the deeper meaning of the feast. They are like those whom the gospel parable compares to rocky soil in which the word of God cannot make deep roots. In the busyness of life these people’s faith withers and dies.

The third group is really just one person. Mary has already acted decisively on the good news announced to her also by an angel. The passage today says that she reflects in her heart on the events taking place. Thus, Mary becomes the model Christian in whom the word of God has taken firm root and whose fruit is abundant. We will find people like Mary attending mass daily and delivering food weekly for the St. Vincent de Paul Society