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Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas Eve Mass

I have been looking forward to this day with great anticipation this year because Christmas Day is a day of universal joy, and if you are like me, I need that joy right now. As a community, we are sharing our weariness and fatigue, and we are to ask for the grace of perseverance and charity during these trying times. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, the religious order to which I belong, said that when we are in difficult times, we must ask for that which seems counterintuitive, and in this case, we should be asking for the gift of joy.


That we are together is a joyous occasion. We need to come together as we are a people who live in hope, and the Scripture that we just heard gives us hope for a child has been born for us, the one who will bring us very near to God, and we will see God’s glory. In the readings, the shepherds learn that this is a sacred moment and see God’s glory and rejoice with the angels. Heaven and earth are united in their song of praise: Glory to God, and peace on earth. This birth is a threshold by which our lives are pulled into God’s divine life, and God delights in our rejoicing.


It is good that we are here in worship, either in person or via live-stream, and that we remain a community connected through our faith. We belong to each other and it is a blessing when family and loved ones gather, or when we connect electronically, because we care for each other, even when we have disturbances or disagree. It is helpful for us to focus upon the positive movements in our lives, and to stay as close as we can in the relationships. These are the moments that give meaning to Christmas because when we fundamentally say ‘yes’ and choose to stay united, the child of hope, the child of light, a spark of God is born for us, and we can settle into the knowledge that deep down God does care for us more than we comprehend. You are worthy of God’s love. You deserve this Day to be one of joy. Just as you are, you are lovable and loved. You are the reason for this Day that we celebrate year after year, just so that you know how deeply God wants your friendship. 


I hope you see God’s love through the faces of the church this year. Though we are far from perfect, I hope you know we are trying. I hope you see the joy and hope in the faces of your loved ones when you gather for a meal or conversation. I hope, in your settled times, you let the reality of God’s love permeate your soul, to its very depths, so you know of your profound value and worth to God. I really want you to know that. This is the Christmas message, that God came into our very lives to make God’s self known in a way in which our hearts can be touched. When we realize that, our hearts rejoice like the angels when they burst forth in song: Glory to God in the highest and deep lasting peace to people of goodwill. Merry Christmas, my friends. May your heart feel joy that we are in this together, and that is pretty good.

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