The December issue of our diocesan newspaper is one that I very much look forward to reading for many reasons and I am sure you do as well. However, since this issue covers the Church's New Year which begins with the first Sunday of Advent and then moves seamlessly from Advent to the great Christmas season, I would like to offer a reflection on the Incarnation of God as Man in the person of Jesus Christ.
All the nice customs we observe at this time of the year should remind us that if it were not for God's great and abundant mercy in sending His only-begotten Son into the world to redeem us, all these nice customs don't really mean much of anything. They are just nice customs soon forgotten and moved on from.
However, when we put Jesus into Advent and Christmas as both the subject and object of all that we say and do and when we keep Jesus as the subject and object of our real love, then Advent and Christmas are for us what they were for Mary and Joseph, for Elizabeth and Zechariah, for the shepherds, for Simeon and Anna. It becomes a time of true and abiding peace of mind and heart, a time of wonderful and awesome joy at the realization of just how much God loves us.
All the beautiful cards we send, the heartfelt Christmas greetings and wishes we offer to others and even the gifts we may give to others are supposed to be visible signs of our gratitude to God for His priceless gift to each of us-redemption by and through Jesus Who comes to us as an innocent, beautiful child. He reminds us that as He came to us, so we all began our earthly lives in the very same way.
Advent and Christmas are the blessed opportunities for us to regain our original child-like innocence received in baptism by being cleansed from original sin and incorporated into the Body of Christ in the state of sanctifying grace. Please go to confession regularly in Advent, the Christmas season and beyond; receive Holy Communion often and be properly disposed to do so. This is the way to make Advent and Christmas a permanent and necessary part of our daily lives.
May all of you have a most Blessed Christmas and New Year.