The following is from the Rev. Thomas Moriarty, pastor of Saint Joseph Church in Hewlett and administrator of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Inwood
The angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ the Lord.” This well-known verse from Saint Luke’s Gospel announces to the shepherds, and to us, the coming of the Long Awaited One, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Take these words to heart. The birth of Emmanuel, God with us, reminds us we do not have to live in fear. God has taken upon himself our humanity. The Creator enters the world of the Created, taking upon himself our flesh, our bone, forming a relationship between God and humanity with a bond that can never be broken. The source of this bond, Jesus Christ, understands our lives, understands our concerns, and understands our fears. We are never alone. God is faithfully present in our lives. In Jesus, God identifies with our needs and desires. His coming into the world, as a child of hardship, allows us to take comfort in the treasure of God’s love, and he shares these treasures with us. This is the Good News of the angel. This is the Good News of Christmas.
For many, this is a difficult time of year and the Good News falls short. Christmastime can be a time of extreme emotions. For a variety of reasons there may be loved ones absent. Songs and carols that speak of hope and joy surround us, and we find ourselves in circumstances far from hope and joy. We bring upon ourselves the pressure of purchasing a perfect gift that adequately expresses our feelings. We hear “from now on our troubles will be miles away,” yet our troubles may be magnified by the commercialized expectations of the season. Not to mention, many are still dealing with the devastation brought about by Superstorm Sandy. While everyone else is celebrating, we can feel “left out” because we are dealing with the reality of life.
In Jesus, God has joined us in this reality. That is the true meaning of Christmas. From his humble beginnings there was no room for Him “in the inn,” and He was born in a barn, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger. A price was placed on his head by the political authorities. Mary and Joseph were filled with confusion and fear that first Christmas morn. Yet, they never gave up, never gave into despair. Their faith in God allowed them to put their trust in Him. He would lead the way. He would not and could not, abandon them in their time of need. The Light of the World, the child Jesus, dispelled the darkness of that night, and does the same for us.
During this holy season of Christmas, may we be aware of the presence of God in our lives. May the light of Christ’s love surround us amid the darkness of fear and confusion. May we look toward that Holy Family of Bethlehem as a model of strength and courage to face life head on. Merry Christmas, and Blessings throughout the New Year.