Jan. 4, 2017
By Father William Muench
Christmas – Epiphany – the Baptism of Jesus. These are the feast days of the Christmas season.
On these important and sacred holy days, we Catholics celebrate the incarnation of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus became one of us. The Son of God accepted our humanity; he was born as a tiny baby just like you and I. He lived among us to teach us and demonstrated how to bring love and peace to our lives and our world. He died on the cross, giving for us out of love all that he could give. Then he found new life to show us the way to our resurrection.
We are blessed people, a holy people, because Jesus was once one of us. Our humanity is truly consecrated because Jesus was once one of us. This means that our possibilities are endless. We are truly capable of so much, so many magnificent, almost miraculous things, because Jesus was once one of us. The days of our Catholic liturgical feast days fill our year over and over. Each of these feast days is a celebration of the incarnation of Jesus. We have the opportunity to, again and again, unite ourselves in a special way with Our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Each time we allow Jesus into our lives – as in these wonderful Christmas celebrations – Jesus becomes our spiritual guide, showing us the best way to live our lives.
After the Christmas season, we will continue to follow Jesus through the time of Lent, that time of prayer and repentance as we prepare for the feast days of our salvation during Holy Week.
On Palm Sunday, we walk with Jesus as he enters Jerusalem to meet his Passion and death.
On Holy Thursday, we join the apostles and Jesus at the Last Supper for the institution of the Eucharist.
Then on Good Friday, we walk with Jesus to Calvary and stand at the foot of his cross. Our Holy Week journey ends with Easter Sunday as we discover the empty tomb and celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection.
I am hoping that this year at this Christmas Season you will discover the powerful presence of the Lord. Jesus wants to walk with us. Jesus wants to show us a real purpose for our day to day life and, as we walk with Jesus, we will live according to his words.
This is such an important time for us, a time to strengthen our faith in the presence of our Lord who continues to be with us even today. This is a time to put new life into our faith in God and our faith in the blessedness of our own humanity.
Jesus was one of us. He came to show us that we, humans, are blessed and capable of so much greatness. Jesus was once one of us. He wants us to realize that we can successfully meet the challenges of life when we walk with Jesus.
I would like to add one more thing here. This year during the Christmas season there were two funerals of friends of mine, among so many others. One of our priests in the Diocese of Ogdensburg, Father Paul Beyette, died; his funeral was just before Christmas. He was a dedicated pastor with deep concern for his parishioners and had so many other interests, such as ecology. The other was a friend and former student, John Graham. He endured a long battle with cancer. Throughout his life he was a dedicated Catholic, a man of deep faith. He was truly a loving husband, father and grandfather. He was always dedicated to the needs of others, working for many years in the programs of Catholic Charities.
At first, many would think that Christmas time would be a rather sad and difficult time for a death and a funeral. However, I discovered immediately for my two friends - whose lives had been so completely connected with Jesus – that these feast days of love and peace were a perfect time to celebrate their lives.
I want you to know that Christmas and the celebration of the birth of the Lord brought us all a certain peace and love – knowing how close the Lord was to them. And we discovered how close the Lord was to the rest of us who were remembering and celebrating our friends who were now with the Lord. As we celebrated Christ’s birth and life – we celebrated the lives of our dear friends now with the Lord.