Fr. Bernie’s Christmas Letter, 2017
Dear Friends and Members of St. Martin,
One great joy I had journeying the Holy Land this past summer was touching the same ground and seeing the same sights that I have read about since I was a child. One such location was that of the Shepherd’s Field. Our group was taken to the very location outside Bethlehem where it is believed the angels came to the shepherds proclaiming the Messiah’s birth. We also went inside the Shepherd’s cave. It was an unpretentious dwelling hewn out of rock where the shepherds lived with their family and sheep.
What struck me about this place was its stark simplicity. The grassy fields, the rolling knolls and the meager home of the shepherds did not dazzle my senses with shock and awe. Rather, I had to allow my imagination to take in that Holy Night so long ago and those to whom God had chosen to proclaim the miracle of His Incarnation. I was struck to think how God would use a simple location, proclaiming to a simple people, the phenomenal birth of His son. Yet, I am reminded that this is how God also became one of us-in simplicity and humility.
A young maiden of no renown named Mary, humbly said, “Yes”. A virgin engaged to a carpenter could have been denounced by her family and community for sexual misconduct. After all, they would inquire about who was the father. How beautifully human. Yet, the faithful resolve of Joseph to a vision received in a dream, allowed him to say “Yes”. So, they were married and months later gave birth to a son.
Nathanael asked of Jesus’ rural Galilean hometown, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Jn.1:46) It was a simple town which was looked down upon by the Judean elite. How could the Messiah come from such a lowly place? Yet, Jesus said “Yes” and from this modest origin brought God’s Light into the World!
Christmas reminds us that we will most likely never find Jesus in the glitz and glitter of what the world throws at us. It’s just not God’s thing. If you are looking for the real Jesus seek him in the unpretentious quiet of your own heart. Discover him in the one who sees no hope and who is consigned to the streets. Receive His liberating Joy as you forgive an enemy and as you forgive yourself the burdens of your living. Say “Yes” to Jesus that His Joy may fill you and your Joy is made complete.
After all, isn’t Christmas about “Joy to the World the Lord has come… Let earth receive her King!”?
This Holy Season, give the gift that keeps on giving! Say, “Yes!” to Jesus. Once you have given it he’ll help you figure out the rest…
Love, Peace and Joy to you all this Christmastide,