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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

The Greatest of All "Presents"

The Greatest of all Christmas “Presents”:  Jesus Christ

            In just a couple of days we will arrive once again at the celebration of Christmas.  As I extend to you and your family good wishes and many blessings this Christmas, I offer some reflections upon the blessings of Christmas – and in particular, Christmas “presents.”

          As we celebrate Christmas, I hope your own awareness of the love that God has for you increases.  This love of God is shown to us through Jesus’ entering fully into our humanity, becoming like you and me in every way except sin.  God loves us so much that He, who is infinite, eternal, all-powerful, and invisible chose to lower himself in becoming man, becoming limited in time and place, able to endure suffering and death in the fullness of the human nature, appearing to be no different than any other human being.  His motive for such an act:  so that He who is without sin could redeem us from sin and death; so that we could forever “know” Jesus Christ in a relationship of true love and communion.  Yes:  Jesus became like us to restore us to true life, so that we could know him and love him!

In addition, may you more deeply know how much Jesus desires to always be close to you.  His act of becoming man, as we know, was to come into the world and to save us.  This act continues!  Jesus still seeks our salvation, giving

us now every grace and every “gift” that we need to say “yes” to him and to follow him on the narrow road to heaven.  In the Christmas celebration, wherein we give and receive gifts or “presents,” hopefully we grow in realization of the greatest gift or “present” of all:  the very life and “presence” of Jesus Christ himself with us.  This gift of Christ present was not given only once 2000 years ago—it is given at every Mass, in every baptism, confession, confirmation, anointing, wedding, and ordination.  Our Lord “gives himself” in every sacrament of the Church so that he might be “present” in every moment of our lives, remaining with us through every joy or sorrow, every accomplishment or trial, in everything we do and in all that we are called to be!  While this appeal to Jesus “present” may sound like a reaching for a corny pun at the expense of Christmas – please know that this truth of Christ becoming present to us is very much at the center of our observance of Christmas – as He is “Emmanuel” (that is, “God with us”), who has come to be present with us, among us, and for us in every moment, now and onto eternity.

Finally, as you celebrate Christmas, I hope and pray that you will be able to share company with family and friends—for this too is a blessing in the Lord, who intends to be present to us in such familial celebration, giving us a share and foretaste in the feast of eternity with all of His children and family in heaven.

On behalf of all who serve you at St. Benedict Parish, I wish you a most blessed Christmas and the joy of knowing that Jesus Christ is Emmanuel (that is, God present with us).



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