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Father Muench Says...

The miracle of Christmas...miracle of life

Dec. 21, 2016

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I begin today by wishing you all a Happy and Peace-filled Christmas.  My prayer for you is that you and your families will discover the joy of Christ’s Birth that constantly transforms our world.  May our Catholic Church radiate the God’s love for all, a love that Jesus brought to this world.

The Christmas story is about the birth of a child.  I have seen the happiness that a new born brings to a family: the balloons and banners that decorate the front of a home, the proud and loving displays of joy that the birth of a baby has brought to this family.

Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, entered our world as a tiny baby.  We all know the story of our salvation; this infant will grow up and live among us, teach us and then die for us on the cross and rise again to a new life.  We celebrate as a Church the life of Jesus that saved us all that began, just as for each of us, as a tiny baby.

This miracle became more understandable for me, when several years ago I was invited by Susan and Paul to accompany them at the time of the birth of their second child.  I know I have told you this story many times – you must forgive me – it was a rather exciting day for me.  I truly remember every detail.  I remember Susan suggesting to me that it might be a rather good experience for a priest to be at their child’s birth.  I signed on immediately.

On that important day, I was out doing something in the parish.  When I returned to the house, my secretary, Diane, alerted me that there had been a phone call from Syracuse.  I took right off.  I wasn’t going to miss this.  I made it in plenty of time.  And we were off to St. Joseph’s. I still remember when I overheard one of the nurses say – as Susan and Paul were checking in – “My goodness, they have even brought their own priest with them.”
During the birth, this same nurse stationed herself next to me; she said she would describe everything to me.  I actually think she wanted to make certain I didn’t do anything outrageous.  The first thing I did notice was that this room was truly filled with love,  a mother lovingly, yet with pain, bringing this child into the world and a father lovingly standing and supporting his wife at this important moment.  I did also recognize that there was loving care there in the actions of the doctor and the nurses.

Many have asked me whether I prayed during this birth.  I must admit that I was so absorbed by at that time that I am certain that I didn’t pray at all.   I was simply absorbed by all that was happening. 

After, as all settled down, I was allowed to hold this infant – this tiny baby.  It was then that I did offer some prayers to the Creator.  I prayed to Jesus, remembering that he had begun his life and ministry, as tiny as this infant, I was holding in the palms of my hands.  Did I mention – his name is William.

Jesus came to my world to transform all things as a tiny baby.  Jesus came to teach us the peace and love and mercy of God, as a tiny baby.  This world of mine was transformed that evening in Bethlehem when the Baby Jesus was born of Mary, his mother.  That birth that I celebrate each year with my parish is so magnificent, a birth like that I was so honored to be part of that night at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

I prayer at that moment for this child I was holding, that his life would be filled with so many good things, for happiness and peace and love as he took his place in this family and this world.  I prayer that only good things would fill his time. I continue to pray each year as I celebrate Christmas that the infant Jesus will bring new life to us all, that his love may fill this world with peace.

On the way home that night after Paul and I had left Susan – and this new member of their family – Paul suggested that we stop for coffee.  What an evening it had been for me.  I continue to realize how much I had been touched and blessed by all I experience.  Paul shared his thoughts, his joy, his challenges, his hopes and dreams.  I found it very special to see how transformative this evening had been for this father.  As you know, for me Christmas will continue to be for me this special story.  And each year, it continues to make me a new person.

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