Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Reflection for Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011 Reflection

By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD

Divine Mercy Parish/ Mission Sts. Sergius and Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

An All Inclusive Independent Old Catholic Parish and Ministry

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.(John 1:14) Glory to God in the highest, and peace to all people on earth with whom He is Pleased. Today is born unto us a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (John 2:14, 11) His name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) And Mary brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, see, the angel of the Lord came on them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said to them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”.(Luke2:7-14) When Jesus came to earth in goodness and loving kindness He saved us by the virtue of His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which was poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

All the above passages are from one of the three masses assigned to Christmas.

What we need to ponder as we hear these passages is how Jesus, the King of Kings came into this world and why God choose to send him in the way he did.

The King of Kings, Lord of Lords was not born in the warmth comfort of a home or inn. No, he was born in a humble cave used to keep the farm animals sheltered from the elements.

His crib was a feeding troth filled with hay for a mattress and the warm breath of a donkey and a cow provided heat.

Mary and Joseph, his parents, had accepted God’s will for them even though it could have left them open to criticism and [possibly even death since the birth of the child would have meant that they had sexual relations before they were married a crime punishable by death.

Jesus first visitors were simple shepherds, not the elite of the world.

God sent us a sign by this choice for Christ’s birth.

God was trying to tell us to live our lives simply and not by seeking fame or fortune.

We were given a message that the simple things in life are what count like family, friends, and the beauty of nature.

Christ’s birth as a poor homeless individual was a sign to us to be more compassionate toward the poor and homeless, aged and sick.

His birth was also a sing that we never know what a small baby will achieve in life which is why we need to respect life.

From Christ’s humble birth in a manger came the most powerful and largest religious movement of all history, Christianity, based on the teachings of Christ.

I often think that God sent Christ as a last resort. God got tired of how humans continually changed everything God had inspired the prophets of old to tell people and mad God into a vengeful God rather than what God actually was, a God of Compassion, mercy and LOVE.

God decided, I believe, that the only way to set things straight was to send His only begotten son, into this world in a natural human way and not in a thunderous miracle.

God wanted to set the record straight on how He expected humans to live and treat each other.

Every event of Christ’s life recorded in scripture, is a message to us to be accepting of the diversity God created, compassionate toward the poor, aged, sick and forgiving toward those who do us wrong.

Christ welcomed all who came to him and discriminated toward no one. He sat and ate with those considered sinners.

Christ is referred to as “The Light of the World” which means He was sent to light the way for us, like a brilliant beacon that guides ships away from dangerous shoals and reefs toward a safe harbor.

Christ was born to clarify God’s will and dispel the darkness that prevailed and sadly still causes so much pain and suffering because of man’s interpretation of Christ’s teachings.

Christ came to comfort us in times of distress by assuring us that there is a great reward awaiting us at the end of our earthly life if we follow his example.

The miraculous birth we celebrate today is that of God made flesh.

God gave us a human image to equate to; a human being that had to endure all the human feelings, emotions, problems and joys that each of us has to experience in our journey of life.

Christ endured the pain of loss of a parent and friends, Christ experienced the joy of a wedding of a friend. He became angry at the greed and callousness of the priests and temple employees.

Christ’s message was one of Love, forgiveness, compassion, mercy and generosity.

On this day we celebrate God’s gift to us of His only son and God’s promise of salvation to all his children, let us present an offering to Him that reflects the way of life He advised us to lead.

Let us begin to be more compassionate to those who are suffering from hunger, illnesses such as AIDS and cancer, poverty, homelessness and substandard housing, and discrimination and bullying.

Let us work hard to eliminate the ills of our society and bring about a time of equality and justice for ALL God’s children.

On this day that we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace let us make a concerted effort to bring peace into the world beginning with our own families, friends and neighbors whom we might be have hurt in some way.

If all of us strive toward this goal, what a huge difference it could make in a world where greed, profit, power and a disregard for the needs of hundreds of millions of people seems to be the norm, especially among some who claim to actually be Christians.

As Neil Armstrong said upon landing on the moon, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, a small change in our behavior can become a giant leap if each person whose life was changed in even a small way were to reciprocate by making a difference in another’s life, miracles could happen.

In the news this week we have heard of strangers who have gone into stores like Wal-Mart, K Mart and Target and paid off the balances due on peoples lay-a-Way’.

According to the news it influenced others to do the same. That is what a gesture of kindness could do.

This week I have made over 40 Christmas arrangements for distribution to some of those nursing home patients and shut-ins I visit. It cost more than $250 which the ministry could not afford, but I felt that the ray of hope and enjoyment it could bring into the lives of those receiving them was far more important and a way I could do what I believe Christ would have done if he were walking this earth today. We are called to be Christ’s hands and feet as his ministers, which means we are supposed to try to live as we believe Christ would have lived today.

By our taking a small step toward bringing peace into our own lives we might prod others to do the same and eventually this “Virus of Peace” could envelope the whole world.

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." (John 14:27)

With these words of Jesus I end this joyous message of Christmas and pray that the Peace and infinite love of Christ will invade your hearts today and all the days of your life.

Merry Christmas and May God bless us all with a peaceful and joyous New Year. AMEN

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