Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord
From the Pastor’s Desk
December 25, 2022
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.”
~ Isaiah 9:1
Christmastime snapshots like the ones captured in the paintings by artist Thomas Kinkade can undoubtedly beguile. Fresh tracks in the snow with carolers harmonizing under glistening holiday lights while strolling on streets dotted with warm-looking houses complete with cute little puffs of smoke rising from their chimneys. Even if you typically don’t fall under the spell of such visual nostalgia, after looking at these pristine landscapes, you can wonder why your Christmas season never turns out like a holiday picture postcard: still, peaceful, perfect.
For many (me included), our Christmas memories might be more like those had in holiday movies like the Griswold family’s craziness in Christmas Vacation or the discombobulated adventures of John Candy and Steve Martin in the film Planes, Trains, & Automobiles. You may have even tried cultivating the perfect holiday moment; you’ve purchased the matching family Christmas pajamas and planned your holiday feast down to the Pinterest-inspired festive centerpiece while thinking, “This is my year. This Christmas will be perfect.” Then life happens. Your tired toddler throws a tantrum because the pajamas itch, or worse, a stubborn adult sends some not-so-nice words across your beautifully appointed holiday table, effectively squelching any plans for anything picturesque or let alone peaceful. Yes, real life is really messy, making pursuing the ‘perfect’ Christmas feel akin to chasing a unicorn.
Nevertheless, take heart and remember that though God’s plan to “give his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” [John 3:16] was indeed a perfect plan, the world Jesus entered was far from ideal. We need to look no further than the location of the Christ child’s birth. We might imagine an idyllic countryside scene with the Savior of humanity bathed in warm light snug inside a quaint little stable filled with dry, sweet-smelling straw as cute; cuddly storybook animals quietly take in the scene. Still, the reality of the first Christmas was probably much closer to that of a working farm, noisy, cramped, often wet, and not so great smelling; in a word, messy. Yet, that one imperfect real-life moment so many thousands of years ago made an impact so remarkable that the Word, the eternal God Himself, became flesh [John 1:14] so He could draw close to us, love us, save us.
With that in mind, let’s promise to stop chasing that picture-perfect Christmas, knowing that life’s messiest moments can make the biggest impact. Like forgiveness offered and received after a yearslong and painful slight, the extra meal prepared and delivered to the cancer patient; the phone call made to the shut-in, and the authentic friendship provided to the outsider. These real-life and imperfect moments give us glimpses of God’s divine perfect plan. The one where light can overcome any darkness. Peace and contentment are achieved by holding onto these moments of grace and infusing them into your mind, memory, and heart. And when you do, allow yourself to be changed, to become an authentic follower of Jesus, someone who can find beauty, learn to forgive, and give love, all while living a real, messy, imperfect, and glorious life!
As we begin this Christmas season, I am so grateful for the many ways our parish family responded during Advent to the needs of our greater community. With so many expressions of need met through coat drives, food pantry donations, Advent Giving Tree presents, Boxes for Baltimore packages, and alms given to our Poor Box, we have abided with thousands of our neighbors living in underserved communities. I also want to highlight all those who generously gave their time and talents to prepare the church to celebrate our Christmas Masses, including our: Musicians, Mass Ministers, Sacristans, AV techs, Decorators, OLPH Staff members, Fr. Anthony, our Deacons. And to all our guests and visitors who join our Parish family to celebrate the Nativity of our Lord, welcome; it is an honor and privilege to worship with you.