Emmitsburg Council of Churches

The Christmas Story for Today

Father John J. Lombardi

Your choice: Become entranced by the beauty and mysticism of the Virgin or the fall and materialism of Miss U.S.A.

The Holy Family - Jesus, Mary and Joseph traveled on a donkey thru the world to the Birth…Today, are you traveling in a luxury vehicle?

Jesus was born in a Manger and is now preparing a Mansion in Heaven for us…Are you seeking a "McMansion" on Earth to welcome Him?

He becomes the Bread of Life, so we can bring him to others, especially the 800 million people who go hungry every day. Are you bringing Him to one starving soul?

Why did God chose to become Man? How is The Lady both Virgin and Mother?

The Christmas story is as beautiful as it is beguiling. Read on, Dear Reader.

Christ was born of royalty, of King David's lineage (Matthew 1:1), and so we, His sons and daughters are called to royalty…Not to rip each other up like Shiites and Sunnis, Democrats versus Republicans, Catholics against Protestants, but rather to unite and reconcile under our King.

"You shall name him Jesus" (Matthew 1: 21)… The holy Name Jesus means "He will save them from sins"…Are you appreciating God's Blood as the Reason for the Season or simply focused on glitz and glitter?

The old priest Zachariah was chosen to be an instrument of God (Luke 1:5)…Do you honor and esteem the elderly in your family and culture or demean them? Currently, a famous Italian poet in Italy, in a landmark case, is now pushing, not Pushkin-the poet, but, rather, euthanasia. How can we preserve the dignity of all people--especially the elderly and infirm?

Zechariah is confused and afraid (Luke 1 12:13)…The angel responds to him like Pope John Paul II did when he said, "Be not afraid!" About anxiousness and alienations in life, about all our worries and troubles. Let the Power of the Most High overshadow you as the Angel promised to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Shepherds. The Anawim -poor are chosen to see Jesus, not necessarily the elite, the effete, or the neat. Rather, today, these poor-Anawim may be dishwashers, gas attendants and steel workers who would humbly seek the Lord and be attracted to Him.

Elizabeth is barren…Many women and men today are infertile unfortunately. Instead of condemning them or inseminating them, let us help them. Yet many infertile couples are choosing the "adoption-option" these days and it is very popular, so remember the disguised Christ child in all the orphans of the world.

King Herod seeks the destruction of children (Mt. 2:3)-and so do many today perhaps through abortion and attacks on the family, but Christ comes to forgive all abortions and unite all families.

The Wise men sought Him (Matthew 2:7)... Today there is a rise of atheism with Richard Dawkins and his book, "The God Delusion," which denigrates God and religious persons. Yet, wise men still seek Him, like scientist Francis Collins in his book, "The Language of God," by discovering "God's fingerprints" in the genetic code-"language of life". Today Christ would help atheists and agnostics though, rather than harangue them. So, then, attract unbelievers like Francis Collins does thru his knowledge and evangelization.

An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream (Mt. 2:19). God is sending to us "messengers" all the time to bring us to Him and help one another. Last week I met Matthew, a seminarian, and asked him if he wanted to help serve a poor family some food. He generously said "Yes," and added, "I would like to give them some money. People have been very generous to me." I asked him how much he would like to give so as to help him in the matter, thinking maybe $25 or so. He responded, "I would like to give them $150." I was delightfully shocked. We later had fun shopping for food for this family (fun food like Lucky Charms and healthy food , as he suggested, like Raisin Bran)--and he was cheery all along the way - a messenger to me of God's joy and lightness. He even asked a clerk in concern, "Did you have a good day?" At the end of our pilgrimage, I said to him, "Matthew, that was extremely generous, what you did." His response, "I've been given so much... Money - what's that for? These clothes I'm wearing-they've been given to me…you have a blessed Christmas Fr Jack!" he was poor and rich at the same time-like Jesus Our Savior. I then realized an angelic-like figure, Matthew, was sent to give me a Christmas-gift before Christmas!

Mother and Child: Recently while Christmas- caroling we visited some elderly folks and one of them was paralyzed in her bed. She had a stroke and could not move, and her face was sullen and slagging. In five years of visitations I've never heard her speak. When the carolers came to sing to her she began to tear up. A mom brought her little baby, Mary-Joan, dressed in a cute Santa outfit complete with red shoe-lets, and the lady began smiling. The mom, perhaps with feminine intuition, began giving the child to the lady, who perhaps hadn't been touched or affectionately affirmed in days or weeks, saying to her: "Would you like to hold the baby?" and handed her over. The lady embraced The Child and began weeping. I said a prayer as the Christmas songs wafted in the air, and closed the prayer with the usual words, "Through Christ Our Lord" --and the lady amazingly said "Amen". After having never spoken before she spoke up at the embrace of The Child.

The prayer at Mass the next day was that "we participate in the Divine Life." Usually we may think this comes thru deep prayer or fancy-floating incense at Mass or ethereal angelic visions and then I realized while praying that prayer at Mass, that the "Divine Life" was, in fact, at the nursing home with The Child and the lady liberated from her loneliness: Enfleshed love, touched and moves all of us.

I once heard and learned a sacred saying: Caro cardo salutis: The Flesh is the hinge of Salvation. Translation: The turning point of our saving Grace is Jesus' en-fleshment-His Incarnation. He was born in a Manger, signifying His humility: God descends to us. Now, become humble yourself and let Him be "born' in your own heart: Out of the Manger and into my heart. And, like the mother and child above, know that you are called to nobility and royalty, and to ex-tend that compassion you have received to other souls who have loneliness and depression.

Here, at Mary's Mountain Grotto, and elsewhere, let us especially thank the Virgin Mary for saying "Yes-Fiat" to God for choosing not always what is easiest but is best: allowing Christ into our lives!

What to do to Ex-tend Christmas…

  • Mass: Christmas comes from the Old English word, Christ-Mass: get it? The Incarnate Word, Jesus-the Christ becomes Flesh-His Sacred Body and Blood for us to consume and become divinized in Holy Eucharist. Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, means "House of Bread"-Jesus is our Bread of life, so why don't' you try to attend Mass more often through the year?
  • Giving-Remember St. Mt. 25 where Jesus visits us-in disguised form, through naked, thirsty, lonely, imprisoned persons. Are you visiting and welcoming Him?
  • Confessing: The Lord came to forgive our sins, so why not receive His Divine Mercy through Confession more often?

May you and all your loved ones celebrate and enjoy and healthy, holy Mary ChristMass!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi