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Monday, December 25, 2000

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Isaiah 62:11-12
Titus 3:4-7
(readings for the Mass at dawn)
Psalm 97

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the way christmas was

"No more shall men call you 'Forsaken,' or your land 'Desolate,' but you shall be called 'My Delight,' and your land 'Espoused.' " —Isaiah 62:4

I had been asked by my archbishop to celebrate Sunday and holyday Masses for a parish that had suffered greatly, lost most of its members, and was about to be closed. I expected to see a few additional people at Christmas morning Mass, since the parish had no other Christmas Mass. However, I was shocked. There were only ten people present for the Christmas morning Mass.

As I began the Mass and started to recover from shock, the Lord helped me better appreciate the first Christmas and the root meaning of all Christmases. Jesus was born in a stable (Lk 2:7). "He was in the world, and through Him the world was made, yet the world did not know Who He was. To His own He came, yet His own did not accept Him" (Jn 1:10-11). Christmas is a picture of God's love surrounded by a world of rejection, apathy, and sin. Christmas is a revelation of God's unconditional and extreme love for us. "When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us; not because of any righteous deeds we had done, but because of His mercy" (Ti 3:4-5). Christmas is the ultimate shock to a world lost in selfishness and self-hatred. Christmas prefigures Jesus' crucifixion and death in perfect, infinite, unconditional, and eternal love for us.

On this first day of Christmas, let us be a Mary, a Joseph, a shepherd, or a wise man. Let us be in that minority, that remnant, who chooses to love totally the God Who is incarnate, rejected Love (1 Jn 4:16).

Prayer:  Jesus, on this day of grace, I decide to live no longer for myself but for You (2 Cor 5:15).

Promise:  "The grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all men." —Ti 2:11

Praise:  "Glory to God in high heaven" (Lk 2:14).

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, July 15, 2000

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 17, 2000