BY FATHER BERNIE PIETRZAK
Dear People of Saint Anne,
The Word became flesh and lived among us (John 1:14)
This coming Friday we will celebrate the Nativity of the Lord – Jesus Christ coming into the world to brighten our lives. Christmas is the renewed invitation not to be hesitant and to let him – whose love is greater than our own hearts and minds can comprehend – be our companion.
God came to us because he wanted to join us on the journey, to listen to our story, and help us realize we are not walking in a circle but moving with God toward his wisdom and understanding. This journey has brought us down different avenues, some dead ends, and seemingly endless hills but it has also brought us through plush forests and dazzling landscapes.
This Christmas, especially, we need to hear the words of the angels in our Scriptures, who consistently tell us: Do not be afraid. This is what the angel Gabriel first says to Mary before she was with child. This is what the angel first says to the shepherds before telling them the baby is bedded in a manger. However, the angels were not the first to speak of Christmas.
In the first reading of the Christmas feast from the prophet Isaiah, hundreds of years before, said the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Isaiah may not have been speaking of Jesus, but what he said way back then resonates with us in a special way this day as the world suffers through this horrible pandemic. And we too, seem to be walking in darkness; and what Isaiah says reminds us of Jesus – the Light of the world. In our darkness we hear the angel’s message. We are all shepherds shaking in our muddy boots these days. But we hear – Be not afraid.
The famous book of the great mystic, Saint John of the Cross, is The Dark Night of the Soul. Let us make no mistake, Saint John’s emphasis is not darkness but rather the great light. Just look up into the skies on a dark night and see the light of stars persistently piercing the darkness. That is how the great light of God comes to us in our great need. This Christmas, we, like shepherds, pick up our gear, leaving our fear behind, and are called to walk towards the light.
The mystery of Christmas gives us comfort and hope that we are not on the journey alone. We know the journey of Joseph and Mary, their poverty and lack of social status, their trek through a hostile land, their rejection at the inn, and, of course, Jesus born in a barn.
Glory to God in the highest! The light that Jesus is, will lift the shroud of gloom, fear and darkness that we know. Christ humbled himself for us. He went from commanding angels to sleeping in straw. Jesus went from holding stars to clutching Mary’s finger. The palm that held the universe took the nail of the soldier. All to meet us on life’s road and journey with us to the promise of health and wholeness.
From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. (John 1:16)
On behalf of Fathers Joji and Rodolfo, our parish staff and parish leadership, I wish you a most blessed and Holy Christmas – and a new year filled with the hope and possibility of a vaccine that will serve to heal the world.
Rev. Bernard J. Pietrzak