Here we are at the threshold of another Christmas. I am thinking of the lyrics of John Lennon's poignant song of the season, "And so this is Christmas. And what have you done? Another year over and a new one just begun."
Christmas is a time to reflect. A time to look at the purpose of our lives here on earth. What have we done? How have we lived the life we are called to live?
We can all see the "real meaning of Christmas" has been distorted. Jesus was born in poverty but this culture celebrates materialism and greed. Jesus was born in humility but this culture celebrates crass egoism and celebrity mania. Jesus was born to show us the true path to God but he is overshadowed by Santa Claus, video games and manufactured good cheer.
Something is profoundly distorted about our culture. We are building on a foundation of propaganda and lies. Our world is sliding into an abyss of empty promises.
We all see it – even though we may not want to. All around us a deep sleep has fallen upon humanity. We busy ourselves and pretend everything is OK. But deep within we know, things are not OK.
'Give us life, and we will call on your name.'
Many have forgotten the Saviour. Many have forgotten the Greatest Story Ever Told and the only story that really matters. The story of Jesus. The story of the tiny babe born in a manger. The glorious infant who came to save the world from the tyranny of sin. The story of Mary and Joseph who witnessed the birth of the living God into this broken world. The story that is the truest story of all.
God loves the human race. We are all called to live as beloved children of Our Father. Our destiny is to be a Holy Family of deep faith, ongoing hope and unlimited love. The Church is an incubator of this vision.
It is our job, our solemn duty, to tell the story of Jesus. To tell his story with our lives and if necessary to lay down our lives so this story will always be known.
Humanity is racing toward ruin. Christmas is a reminder to remember what really matters. The Christmas cards and carols. The beautiful liturgies we can attend. The gathering of our families. These are all reminders to be grateful for our lives and ask, What have we done?
What have we done with our time, talent and treasure? What have we done with this awe-inspiring, painful, joyful, incredible life we have been given? Christmas is a chance to renew our commitment to be the person we were created to be.
The greatest present is not found under our Christmas tree – rather the greatest present is the gift of our unique, non-repeatable life. This is the true gift of Jesus to you and me.
There is a profound necessity to learn to be grateful and to live the gift of each moment. Every encounter we have with others is unique. It can never be repeated.
Every day we live is an opportunity to pray, to love and to embrace God in every circumstance. All things pass so quickly.
St. Teresa of Avila wrote this beautiful prayer: "O Lord! All our trouble comes to us from not having our eyes fixed on you. If only we looked at the way along which we are walking, we should soon arrive. But we stumble and fall a thousand times and stray from the way because we do not set our eyes on the true Way."
Jesus is our true way – the true way to God in this present moment and all the moments of our transitory lives.
This week's First Reading from the book of Micah says, "His greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth." This is not a myth. It is not a pious dream. The greatness of Jesus shall reach the ends of the earth.
One day everyone will know that our lives were a pure gift. We have all been given a chance to turn to Jesus again and again. He is the source of all that is good in us and around us. He is the ever-present one who wills us our lives moment by moment.
What a present you have given us Jesus! We are alive here and now. Lord, you have given us another day to walk this earth. May every breath and every heartbeat be a sacred prayer. An outpouring of love and gratitude for the awe-inspiring reality of the life we are given.
Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for life, for love, for joy and struggles, for meaning, purpose and the promise of eternal life. Thank you Lord for the gift of Christmas. May your story and ours be one. Jesus, live each moment in us.