Rev. Stephen P. Trzecieski, C.M.
year when we exchanged Christmas
greetings and best wishes for a
Happy New Year, we were still
reeling off the devastation of
year at Christmas time our
deepest desires were rooted in
the sincere hope that THIS YEAR
2002 would be far better.
hoping that the War on Terrorism
would have been contained, that
the economy would rebound and
that the road to peace was ahead
Unfortunately, 2002 proved to be
a continuation of 2001 . . . the
threat of war is still very real
. . . the economy is still
sluggish . . . our beloved
Catholic Church smeared with
scandals; and for many of us
personal tragedies, unforeseen a
year ago, like illness and death
in our families have made this
year an even greater burden.
year's Merry Christmas and Happy
New Year may be politically
correct but not too merry or
to be caught in a web of
international and national
events, which are beyond our
control and frustrate our hopes
for the future.
again we ask ourselves when will
these turbulent times end? When
will we really have "that Peace
on earth," "Good will toward
economists; generals or
admirals, presidents; prime
ministers; Queens or Kings; or
dictators have offered us any
effective solutions . . . in
fact, many of them have been the
cause of our problems.
struggle to lead a normal happy
life seems to be even far more
difficult than before.
there anything different two
thousand and two years ago in
the Middle East?
nation was once again under the
thumb of a brutal empire.
Freedom was just a dream in the
minds of the oppressed; poverty
was their daily bread; even
their religious leaders were
divided among themselves over
theological issues such as the
resurrection of the dead . . .
siding with the hated Romans was
a way of life . . . a way of
surviving . . . as proven by
many Jewish tax-collectors who
danced around the "POWERS THAT
BE" while their Jewish kings,
like Herod, became the slimy
sycophants of the Roman
many hoped for a promised
Messiah, many more despaired of
salvation . . . after all, it
was four thousand years ago that
this Messiah was promised . . .
that is a long time to wait even
for the most patient of human
beings. Did God abandon His
people? Or what is worse, is
there even a God?
people asked themselves also the
same question. . . "when will
these turbulent times end?"
"When will we really have "that
peace on earth," "Good will
into this atmosphere and
cultural condition that the
youthful Mary and Joseph, deeply
in love with one another, began
their married life.
days, Ceasar Augustus published
a decree ordering a census of
the whole world forcing Joseph
and his pregnant wife, Mary to
journey from Nazareth in Galilee
to David's town of Bethlehem in
Judea, a distance of some 80
miles . . . a considerable
journey even for us today.
saddened Joseph must have been
when he could not provide
adequate housing for his dear
wife with child . . . but only a
manger for a crib and a stable
for a home.
Joseph must have felt deeply the
sting of rejection because there
was no room for them in the Inn.
God treat His very own family in
such a shabby way? Why not the
best for one's own? Especially
when nothing is impossible with
midst of the darkness of this
night something is about to
happen. This happening is not
just an event but an event with
a Presence and therein lies its
this "Presence" foreshadowed in
the Old Testament . . . with
Moses and the Burning Bush . . .
the Column of Fire at night and
the Column of Clouds during the
day leading the Jewish people
out of Egypt in their Exodus to
the Promised Land. This Presence
is again seen with Elijah and
the Whispering Sound in the cave
for the prophet found the Lord
here . . . because the Lord was
not in the stormy wind, nor in
the earthquake, nor in the fire.
There are other clear examples
of God manifesting His presence
in a variety of ways to His
something startling is about to
happen as announced by the Angel
of the Lord. Simple shepherds
keeping the night watch over
their flocks are astounded as
THE ANGEL OF THE LORD appears to
them announcing that this day in
the city of David a Savior has
been born to you . . . the
Messiah and Lord . . . and then
the multitude of heavenly hosts
praising God saying "Glory to
God on high . . . peace on earth
to those on whom His favor
PRESENCE has arrived . . . the
Promised One . . . after four
thousand years of waiting . . .
Emmanuel is His name . . . a
Name which means "God is with
us" . . . the Divine Presence .
. . for nothing is impossible
infant life unfolds and grows
into childhood and then into
manhood, we see the effects of
His Presence in the lives of His
family and friends; neighbors
and strangers; Jews and pagans;
believers and unbelievers;
saints and sinners; the curious
and the indifferent; the rich
and the poor; high priests and
kings; fisherman and tax
collectors; the blind and the
lame; the sick and the dead.
Presence is never static . . .
it is always active . . . in all
His encounters Jesus makes
Himself available . . . Jesus
initiates . . . Jesus invites .
. . Jesus challenges . . . Jesus
heals . . . Jesus reaches out to
now the Presence of Jesus is the
reason for hope . . the
Disciples on the Road to Emmaus
recognized Jesus by what He said
and what He did . . they
recognized Him in the Breaking
of the Bread just as we
recognizing the Presence of
Jesus in the Eucharistic Bread.
the most important words that
Jesus ever spoke to His eleven
disciples, and therefore to us
as well, were on that Mountain
in Galilee just before He
ascended to His Father when He
gave them the mandate to
Baptize, teach and carry out
everything that He had commanded
them . . . and then He said to
them these MOST IMPORTANT words
which have given so much courage
to so many over the centuries .
. . "And know that I am with you
always, until the end of the
Jesus is "with us always" . . .
because He is present to us NOW
and each day we have reason to
hope . . . enormous hope . . .
have hope for ourselves
have hope for our families
have hope for our communities
have hope for our Church
have hope for our nation
have hope for our world
these difficult times . . .
Christmas is more than just a
remembrance of the birth of
Christmas is about Jesus'
Presence among us . . .
Therefore, Christmas is about
why we can honestly say this
Christmas what St. Paul said who
so strongly believed and
experienced the Presence of
Jesus in His life. . . "I can do
all things in Him who
know what . . . we will, because
. . . Jesus said "I am with you
all always, even until the end
of the world" . . . for nothing
is impossible with God!
is up . . . Thank you for yours.
And thanks for listening!!
Read other Homilies by Father
Stephen P. Trzecieski, C.M.