Dear Fellow Parishioners,
Every year this joyful season of Christmas comes to us as a reminder that Christ our Savior was born to bring us true lasting peace and joy even amidst the trials, difficulties, hardships, and uncertainties of life. We hear in Sacred Scripture how the angels announced this peace and joy to the world, but oddly enough, on that first Christmas Jesus didn’t take away all the world’s difficulties, hardships, and sufferings. Even after celebrating two thousand twenty-one Christmases, we still face trials, difficulties, uncertainties, and suffering in the world and in our own lives.
So, were the angels wrong? Not at all! The light of Christ dawned in Bethlehem when the world was still in darkness. And just so, the joy and peace of Christ should be shining in the depths of our hearts even while storms and trials rage on the surface of our lives. The joyful message of Christmas is NOT that our life journey will be easy, but that the journey, when undertaken with Jesus our Savior, is well worth the effort. That’s why we can be joyful and at peace even in the midst of our tears and difficulties; because we know that our Redeemer lives and is at our side, and will never abandon us.
The Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph are a good example of living this internal gift of peace and joy even as they experienced the trials, difficulties, and uncertainties that life brought them. Saying yes to God’s plan did not exempt Mary or Joseph from the hardships, trials, and uncertainties that they would face. From the moment she gave birth, as she lovingly embraced baby Jesus in her arms, all the way to the day of Mt. Calvary, where she held her son’s lifeless body in her loving motherly arms, Mary was still able to maintain that interior peace in the midst of her tears, trials, and suffering as she trustingly awaited the resurrection of her Son. Her sorrows turned to joy that Easter morning. For today, a savior has been born.
Christ was born to give us true, lasting joy, because he came to establish true, lasting peace. Without peace, there is no joy. The peace Christ brings is the interior, spiritual peace that comes from a conscience cleansed by his forgiveness and a heart which knows that our heavenly Father loves us. No one can take away a clean conscience or the knowledge that we are loved by God. That’s why Christ’s peace is lasting – it is unassailable.
The angels knew this and did not hesitate in announcing their good news of great joy, knowing that Jesus Christ truly does bring lasting peace to men and women of good will.
May this Christmas story of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, awakened within us a profound and basic emotional memory of a God who loves us so much that he became a little child, not so much that he might be with us, but rather we might be with him who will fill our hearts with his contagious Peace and Joy.
Along with Fr. Anthony Uytingco, Fr. Robain Lamba, Seminarian Quizzer Besinio, and the Pastoral Staff, I want to wish you and your families a blessed and Merry Christmas.
Christmas blessings to all,
Fr. John Poncini