Thursday, December 26, 2013

Is Christmas Real?: Christmas

           It gives me great joy to see so many of you here today!  Know you, your family and friends are most welcome here at St. John’s (and any other Catholic parish).  If Fr. Rich was here he would probably take a second (or third) collection, but as I am the associate and don’t have to worry about our budget, I’ll keep it to one.
            During the last weeks I have been preparing for something big.  Yes, Christmas—but something else.  I have been compiling a playlist with the greatest hits and my favorite songs from the 1990s.  The 90s was the first full decade I lived through.  It was when I first fell in love, made friends and played on many sports’ teams.  Listening to music from the 90s has brought back many great memories.
            I came across a song I hadn’t heard in years—“One of Us.”  Part of the song goes like this (and I’ll spare you the singing): “What if God was one of us?  Just another slob like one of us?  Just a stranger on the bus trying to make his way home?”  The rhetorical question in this song is—if God is real, how would we live our lives?
            Yet this question has an answer—God has become one of us.  Today we celebrate the birth of the God-man Jesus.  In a sense, he has become a slob like one of us as Jesus was human.  I mean, think of the Nativity.  Often we picture this pristine and pious stable.  Yet the animals there probably smelled.  Jesus himself was wrapped in swaddling cloths because, like any other baby, he went to the bathroom.  He came into the messiness of our human experience.  And he came as a stranger, away from heaven and in a foreign territory.  But come he did!  He was one of us!
            My question this Christmas day for you: is this real?  Was Jesus, both God and man, truly born here on earth?  Or is this a cute story to tell our children?  Do we celebrate Christmas for only nostalgic or celebratory reasons?  Or, is all of this real?
             If Christmas is real and God truly became a man—a baby—our lives should be different.  I can tell you that if this whole Christmas thing wasn’t real, there is no way I would be a priest.  Why would I give up a lucrative job, a wife and children for a cute story?  I am a sinner, but I believe with all my heart that the mysteries of our faith are true.
            As we near the end of the calendar year and begin 2014 it is common to make New Year’s resolutions.  I challenge you, make resolutions in your faith!  Pray daily.  Experience the joy of Sunday Mass.  Experience Christ’s mercy in Confession.  Make God your best friend.
            Today we rejoice that God has become one of us.  And that is as real as it gets.

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