While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.
Heavenly Father, open our hearts to receive your son. There was no room in the world for Him because you wished your son to reside within our hearts and lives. Here our prayers today for those who cannot celebrate Christmas due to a lack of faith, hope or love. Hear our prayers for those who suffer an eternal Advent. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
While celebrating last night’s vigil Mass, I noticed that one of the prayers of the faithful was for those who have suffered the death of a child during this time of year.
Please, please, please do not get me wrong. We need to pray for all. But today is not All Souls Day. Today is not Good Friday. Today is Christmas day and we should recall how the Father has given the world His joy, His peace, His Son, His life into our most needy world.
Would it be correct to recall the Lord’s passion on this day? Would it be fitting to tell Mary that her son would soon die? I know that we are not accustomed to hearing something like this, especially from a priest, but I wonder why we make reference to children who have passed away in our prayers of the faithful on Christmas day. I would prefer that we remember their birth, their life, their love on this day. I prefer that we remember the joy that Mary and all Christian mothers experience on the birth of their firstborn child. Today is a day to celebrate the beauty of life and love and all that makes us wonder.
What can we be grateful for? That we can love; that we can love others. I can truly love someone. What an amazing gift! What a beautiful, wonderful and exclusive privilege the Almighty has given to the human race. May the Lord of love open our hearts to our greatest potential: to be an unconditional love gift to those who do not know how to love.
What can we be grateful for? That we can notice beauty; that we can detect it in things and in others. I can sense beauty in music, in art, in poetry and in dance. I can look up in the sky and say, “What a beautiful night.” I can appreciate the mountains, marvel at the stars, gaze upon the ocean. Beauty is all around us, if only we would take time to see.
What can we be grateful for? That we have life; that we exist. May the Lord in his mercy and compassion open our minds to our greatest potential: to be unique and to never wish ourselves away. There are very few things in life that only happen once and can have such a profound impact on others. Guess what? You are it! Child, no one else will ever take your place, literally. Those who died before us and those who have yet to live may read about you and analyze your pictures, but they will never know you as I know you. The sun rises and sets daily. We only appear once.
There is so much to be grateful for.
Yesterday, before Mass began, I spoke to a man and his son. They told me that right after Mass they were going to “secretly” leave some forty gifts under a family’s Christmas tree. This family has two boys that are currently in the hospital due to a horrible genetic disease. I did not ask what the children’s prognosis was, but to make matters worse, financially, the family is in shambles. So, this man and his son decided to help them out. In fact, this man’s son decided to take his $100 gift card, given to him by his grandmother, and give it to one of the boys in the hospital. What makes this story ever more remarkable is that this family lost their eldest daughter not too long ago in a tragic ski accident. This child Jesus, in the midst of tragedy was born in Bethlehem. The child Jesus, in the midst of sadness and loss, was born in this child and outside the town of Bethlehem.
Today is a day to celebrate life, love and beauty. Today, we celebrate Christ’s birth and his re-birth with us, in us and through us.