The Christ of Christians Continues to Touch Our Lives

My dear friends,

“Lord Jesus, as I bow in adoration before your manger, let my first Christmas words be thank you! Thank you, Gift of the Father, for coming to save me from my sins.” These are the opening words from a prayer written for this feast, and they express very well the reason for our celebration of Christmas. Christmas for us is not just the hearing of a story that remains in the past, but the story of One who is able to personally touch us now, making the story our own. In celebrating the birth of our Savior, we are also celebrating our own new birth through Him, through the forgiveness of our sins.

I remember my first Christmas—it was 1981, and I was 20 years old. The reason I say “first Christmas” is because it was then, for the first time in my life, that I understood what Christmas is really all about. What made that Christmas different and very special for me had everything to do with that little child of Mary lying in a manger.

Only a few months before our family Christmas Eve gathering, that little Child, who came into the world to save it, to save me, had finally broken through all the barriers of sin I had put in His way and cradled Himself personally in my own heart. How many times had Jesus sought a place in my heart, but like the innkeepers of Bethlehem, I had no room for Him. I had room for everything else, but sadly, no room for Him. I was proud, self-centered, self-indulgent; I thought I could face life on my own. I did not feel any need for God.

I was baptized at 10 years old, but not having anyone to mentor and guide me, I became more and more taken up with all the cares and charms of the world. I was unaware of the gift hidden within me. However, the day of my salvation finally dawned. After several years of indifference and estrangement from God, and through much pain and heartache, the Lord humbled me, brought me contrite and repentant to my knees and flooded my soul with His loving presence. I received the gift of Christmas—Jesus Christ. In the joy of this new beginning, I could then imagine, at least to some degree, the joy Mary, Joseph and the shepherds must have felt on that silent, cool night in Bethlehem.

I was still part of a family that had weathered many hardships, but a family still broken and struggling. We were a family that needed much healing. There was now hope in my heart, an assurance that everything was going to be alright—not that it would be easy—but that it was going to be alright. For a Savior had indeed been born for me and my family, and this Savior, Jesus Christ, was personally with us.

That Christmas, we still exchanged gifts as we had always done in previous years, but I would have been completely content with no gifts at all. My heart was preoccupied and quietly rejoicing with the True Gift of Christmas, which overwhelmed me with gratitude.

We sang the same old Christmas carols that night, but it was as though I was hearing them for the first time. They came alive, for they were now telling my own story.

My dear brothers and sisters, the message proclaimed by the Angel is our reason for Joy this night. “Do not be afraid: For today in the city of David, a Savior has been born for you, who is Christ the Lord.”

In the Eucharist, we celebrate our Savior, who renews His coming and presence among us. Like His presence in the manger, Jesus hides His majestic glory in littleness. He comes so gently and tenderly under the humble appearance of bread and wine, so that we will not be afraid to approach him. Together let us adore Him, let us thank Him. Let us once again ask Jesus to take up all the space in our hearts and to stay with us—for in Him alone will our hearts know the joy of a redeemed life, a recreated life, a life full of peace and countless blessings.

Wishing you and your families a most blessed Christmas, filled with the joy and peace of Christ.

God love you,

Fr. Steven

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