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Father Muench Says...

The most exciting Christmas

December 23, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I want to wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas, also a Christmas filled with good health. May Christ’s love surround you at this Christmas time and always. I continue to be so grateful for so many of you who have sent me Christmas cards. They do bring joy and happiness to me. You make this Christmas time a season of love and peace.

I want to share with you a story, which I think is filled with Christmas spirit. I am reminded today of a young girl that I visited in a hospital in another place a very long time ago. She must have been about 13 years old. I don’t remember her name. I do remember that she was very sick. As I remember, she was usually exhausted when I visited. I cannot remember what caused her to be in that condition.

One Sunday afternoon, I decided to visit the hospital. As I passed my friend’s hospital room, there were several people in the room. It must have been her whole family. There was lots of laughter and conversation. I did notice my young friend because she was sitting up smiling and looking bright.

Later I stopped into her room – now empty and quiet. She was calm and again peaceful. I mentioned to here that I had noticed that her room was busy and alive with visitors and that she had seemed rather alert. She told me that she knew how disturbed they were that she was so sick, so she had to do something to cheer them up. I could understand that this was her gift to them.

This morning I attended Mass. We are now in the Masses that form the novena in preparation for Christmas. These are Masses that prepare is well for the celebration of the Feast of Christmas. And truly this was the message that came to me, this was the reason that Jesus came to our world: Jesus came to live with us, to teach us, to die and rise again for us because he wanted to cheer us up.

That really made sense to me. So many of the things that are told us in the Gospels are meant to cheer us up. And during this time of the pandemic, we certainly need some cheering up. The Christmas story is so beautiful – a loving message of the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem, the story of the angels, the story of the Magi coming to Bethlehem. All these stories are so wonderful and truly are meant to cheer us up each year as we celebrate Christmas.

The stories of Jesus’ healing someone in need brings so much peace and love to me. Another way to put it is it cheers me up. I think especially of Jesus going with Jairus to his home to raise up he daughter. And do you remember when Jesus surprisingly came upon the funeral procession of the son of the widow of Nain and brought him back to life? Each time I read that story I am thrilled.

There are so many. I think of Jesus walking on the water and getting into the boat with the apostles and calming the sea. I know that Jesus comes to me often when the sea of my life gets rather rough and filled with high waves. Oh, yes! And there is the number of times that the Lord Jesus feeds the large crowds. I think of those times each time I was planning a parish supper of some sort.

There are so many times during Mass when I hear the proclamation of the Gospel and a story of Jesus truly cheers me up. May the Christmas story again this year bring joy and happiness to you as you again remember each detail, and may it truly cheer you up in this rather curious time.

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