A Christmas Message:
Peace on Earth?
by Br. Patrick Hogan | Alumni Spiritual Director
at Archbishop Molloy High School
Peace on earth. That is what is in the New Testament. It’s on Christmas cards. People have been saying it for as long as I can remember, but it has not happened yet. So what can I give you for Christmas?
THE STORY: They were normal people just like you and me. Mary was a simple Jewish girl living a normal life, when someone suddenly came into her room and told her she was pregnant (that would be enough to scare me). This person said, “God thinks you are great. Do not be afraid.” Mary said, “Ok, I’ll do it.” And that is how it all began. And so Jesus was born. Make no mistake, the next 30 years were quite normal. Mary cleaned the house; Joseph taught Jesus how to be a carpenter, and Jesus cleaned up the shop daily before dinner. Jesus got in trouble just like all of us. Remember, he snuck away when he was in Jerusalem and did not tell anyone that he was going to talk with the old men in the temple. He was gone for three days. Can you imagine the trouble you would be in if you didn’t come home for three days? Well, Mary and Joseph had a few words for him, you can be sure.
PEACE ON EARTH: There is a song that we all know: “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with you.” I think this song has it right. But it must begin when we are able to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we make in life. There is no one, including myself, and yes even the Pope, who has not messed up at some point. All my life I have believed that the Eucharist is the food that I need to keep myself going in the right direction. So many times I felt unworthy, but I went to receive it anyway. The reality is that no one is truly worthy. We need to forgive ourselves; Pope Francis has affirmed what I have always believed (but not always heard): “The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than facilitators, while the church is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone and all of their problems. So what is under the Christmas tree? The crib and Christ (He is the lovable little baby), and Mary, the first human being ever to receive the Eucharist. That’s the gift. The Eucharist. Merry Christmas everyone.