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Father Muench Says...

Know that you are a loved person

Dec. 25, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I would like to begin by offering my gratitude to you all who join me each week in this column. I like to think of you as family. I wish you all a happy and peace-filled Christmas. I want you to know that I think of you each week as I begin writing here. I promise to remember you and your family in a special way in my Christmas Masses.

When I think of Christmas each year, the first thing I think of is gratitude. Each year, Christmas is a time to renew our faith in the incarnation of our Lord and Savior. Jesus came to become one of us. We believe that God sent Jesus to our world to show us the way and to bring us God’s message – a message we renew in our hearts, over and over again, a message that transforms us and makes us into a new person, more alive in the Lord. That message: God loves us all, each and every one of us.

So, I begin today by being so grateful to God, who has blessed me with my vocation and with innumerable opportunities as a priest to bring Jesus’ message to so many, reminding them over and over again that God loves them. I thank God for the many people and the many families that have been part of my ministry as a pastor. I was taught so much by dedicated and faith filled parishioners that message that Jesus brought to our world: that God loves me. I became a different person, a transformed priest, a loved person.

And so, my message to you today is to be happy as you celebrate another Christmas. The Lord wants to reaffirm you that you are special in the sight of God. You are a loved person.

It is important that we realize what the message is that we are a loved people. Jesus came to make it clear to us that God loves us unconditionally – God loves us. There are so many stories in the Gospels that make it clear that God does not place so many demands. So, it is not a question of how loving we are. God loves us. Jesus came to do all that he did for us because God loves us. We are a loved people. God is so loving that we are not expected to earn God’s love. There are so many stories of Jesus reaching out to someone and welcoming them into a close and loving relationship with him without demands.

We are a loved people, and so we come to the Lord in prayer, celebrating Eucharist to discover how we are to live like a loved person. Each time we come to our God, each time we enter into prayer with our God, each time we come to the presence of our God in a sacred place like our parish church, it becomes a moment of transformation. We change. We become a new person because we realize how blessed we are and that we are loved, that our

God loves us and that we must live like a loved person.

I know from my own experience that it is obvious those who know they are loved. I believe I can identify someone who lives like a loved person simply by looking a person in the eyes. I know those with a loved heart that makes them a loving and caring person. I also know those who have a cold, hard heart, who don’t realize how much God loves them. I want to quote that old song that I learned a long time ago: “Hard hearted Hannah, the vamp of Savannah.”

In the writing of the prophet Ezekiel 36:26, when we fully experience the love of God, we are promised: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

As you celebrate again the Birth of Jesus, may you become that loving disciples of Jesus because you realize that God loves you.

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