(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: http://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Mass-Blog-for-Christmas-2022.mp3)
Christmas gives each of us the opportunity to give others the greatest Christmas gift of all: the witness of Christ’s birth in our hearts. According to a recent documentary about the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, subtitled “No Greater Love,” that revelation gave this saint her greatest joy as she struggled with her own private dark nights of the soul in our pain-filled world.
Seeing the hope this nun gave to the poorest of the poor around the world introduced a newborn concept of Jesus in the hearts of those who witnessed it. “I need to know more about the gift of this God she’s talking about, not the one I was raised with,” said one of those touched by her grace who was interviewed for the film.
The Christmas message coming from this film suggests we shine the light of God’s love on those lost in the same darkness that often encompasses each of us. Mother Teresa knew that darkness, and eventually realized such suffering was essential to knowing the passion God’s word inspired within Jesus. The fallen human condition into which Christ was born and for which he died showed Mother Teresa that the path to our salvation was through each other’s hearts. That inspiration is immortalized in John’s gospel and was chiseled into Mother Teresa’s tombstone:
“Love one another as I have loved you.”
She thought of herself as a pencil by which God wrote love letters. That hand is attached to the same holy arm Isaiah tells us was put into service so that …
… all the nations, all the ends of the earth, will behold the salvation of our God. (Is 52:7-10)
John’s gospel also tells us that those who accept Christ’s Christmas gift receive another one: the right to become children of God. Through Christ and through us, God’s word is born:
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:1-18)
We close with two more gifts: joy and hope. Those words translate beautifully into Latin: Gaudium et Spes. That combination is also one of the gifts Teresa’s friend Pope John Paul II gave us to commemorate the birth of Vatican II. Written when Karol Wojtyla was a young Polish bishop, this document offers a gift conceived to open all human hearts:
“Man cannot fully find himself, except through a sincere gift of himself.”
Christ came into the world to save me and to save you, because God said so. This is His gift to us, what we do with our life is our gift to Him!
Many baptized Catholics choose not to attend Mass because “they don’t get anything out of it” which is perhaps the most naive and ignorant logic ever. Like God owes us an entertaining experience during our Sunday obligation?
Perhaps we can encourage someone we know to understand how much God loves us, and that we were each created out of love for an eternal purpose. Bring that person back to Christ on the right path to eternity.
That would be the ultimate Christmas gift!
This blog was born out of Matthew Kelly’s suggestion that we go into mass with an open ear to what God is always telling us. Our problem is we like noise, and God doesn’t communicate that way. He uses our silences to tell us what we need to hear. If we go into any church service expecting to be entertained, chances are we’ll leave that service as empty as when we entered. God’s wisdom is revealed in ways we least expect. It may be a scriptural turn of phrase we never noticed before, or a surprising insight the celebrant himself wanted to share, or God’s message may come wordlessly from a fellow church attendee who, despite their sad face or physical handicap, is determined to receive God’s message despite the challenges this world is throwing at them. God is always telling us something. Mass is our opportunity to sing and pray, but also to stay open to those moments when God goes off-script. Happens all the time, as this blog’s 10-years of listening and responding can testify.