Merry Christmas, Everyone.
The true spirit of Christmas -- the one we all should remember from our childhood and try to embody each year as we share it with our family and friends -- emerges from our love of Christ, and our belief in His word and the meaning of his life and his teachings.
On this Christmas morning I want to remind everyone that the message of Christ is accessible to everyone at all times, and is most needed and beneficial when the events of our personal lives and the world at large have coincided to bring difficult times upon us. The word of the Lord comes to us in these times and requires us to count our true blessings, individually and collectively, to give thanks and praise to the Lord not for the things we possess in a material sense, but for those that exist only because of the spirituality that sustains us. We must look past the material and corporeal, to that which gives meaning and grace to our lives as men and women, even when our material desires and expectations are difficult or impossible to meet.
What do I mean by that? I'll try to explain.
Materialistically speaking, this particular day on the calendar coinciding with the birthday of Christ arrives at one of the most difficult times in my family's history. This is not going to be a Christmas celebrated with material treats and expressions of love, a day when our earthly wants and desires are unexpectedly satisfied by peeling off wrapping paper or opening a nondescript box to find it contains a diamond, or being ushered outside to discover a new car in the driveway with the keys dangling from the rear view mirror. In fact, this year my family could not afford to purchase any gifts in the conventional sense. It's a difficult day coming at the end of an even more difficult year, financially speaking.
Instead the four of us -- my mother and father, my brother and I, will spend Christmas today remembering what it really means to us, when that meaning isn't relegated to second place by the ritual of opening heaps of presents. We're going to cook dinner together, pray together, and remember to thank God for his blessings as a family. We're going to spend our day with Mass and with the love of the Lord, sharing it between us, and reflecting on the fact that hard times may have diminished our bank accounts but they have not broken our spirit or conquered our love for each other. We're going to celebrate that we are children of God and followers of Christ, and our hearts will be full even though the space under the tree may be empty. And we're going to remember that life's warmth and frost, the come and go of fortune and material gain are just transients -- pleasuresome to be sure, but not what ultimately matters to us as souls.
I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. And especially, regardless of your material circumstances this year: May Peace be with you, and may the love of God, your family, your friends and your true blessings bring the joy of Christmas to everyone.