The Joy of Christmas

 In Pastor's Notes-Fr. Ritche

It is providential that on the last Sunday of Advent this year, we hear the story of the annunciation of the birth of Jesus.  Mary, who witnessed this annunciation from the angel Gabriel in the Gospel, serves as an example for all us on how to prepare and welcome Christ. It is through her deep and life-long relationship with God in prayer that Mary was able to withstand all the challenges of life. Just imagine: a young woman, about to get married, and pregnant with a child that was not conceived from her husband Joseph.  She must have been frightened! And yet, as she pondered on the message of the Angel, Mary was filled with peace.

As we approach the celebration of Christmas, most of us are perplexed because we know that it would be very different this year.  With the restrictions placed before us brought about by the pandemic we can’t help but ask ourselves, “how can we celebrate the joy of Christmas?”  In the pre-COVID world, we know that this season is surrounded by gatherings with family, relatives and friends.  There are parties everywhere.

In my homily last weekend, I mentioned that joy is not dependent on what is on the outside, but rather joy comes from within.  I believe that Mary can teach us about what true joy is about.  In her Magnificat, Mary utters the following: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.  My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”  Mary’s peace, joy and strength comes from a deep relationship with God.  The birth of Jesus was not a smooth experience.  Mary and Joseph travelled on foot from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  There was no room for them at the inn. She gave birth in a stable. No medical personnel to assist them. Yet, they were able to withstand everything because they believed that God was with them.

The season of Christmas might be different this year, but still it can be celebrated with great rejoicing. The true joy and peace of Christmas is knowing that God chose to be human, one like us. And that He is with us until the very end.  We celebrate with our God who has given us the most precious gift of all – the gift of His Son, the Emmanuel, God with us- that is priceless! Definitely worth celebrating!

I’d like to invite you to join us for Mass either via livestream or in person.  Check our website for the schedule of Masses.  I’d also like ask you to be safe during the holidays: have a meal only with those within your household; invite others to join you through social media, and be creative with your gift giving.  And most importantly, as St. Paul says: “In all things and in all circumstances, give thanks!  Pray unceasingly! Rejoice always!”

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