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Pastor's Letter 20221225 - 25 December 2022 - God's Caring Outreach

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December 25th, 2022



Christmas Day, 2019,  at Valle Escondido, Boquete, Panama

A Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  “God’s Caring Outreach”

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

(Isaiah 52:7-10)  Jesus Christ is “Good News,” and “Salvation” to all the nations.  That which is proclaimed from the pulpit must resound more loudly and more joyfully in the marketplace. 

Our First Reading envisages the joy and hope of the people upon hearing of their release form exile and their imminent homecoming—with their hope attaining a “Phoenix-like” quality.  In the events of history, the prophets readied their people for the creative, redeeming, purifying, loving and blessing Word of God.  Today, we celebrate the “Christ-event”—the full realization of the ancient prophecies, for an exiled nation and for everyone.


(Hebrews 1:1-6)  Our Blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, is Father, Brother and Lord—the “message of glory” we celebrate.  No longer “through a glass—darkly,” but in the light of Christ, do we behold the fullness of the Father’s love for us.

Addressing the Hebrews in sort of a “before-and-after,” or a “then-and-now” comparison, the author of Hebrews enunciated the differences between the revelation of the Old and New Covenants.  Today’s image is one of Christ’s divinity and equality with God.  Besides asserting Christ’s superiority to the prophets and Old Testament revelation, Hebrews also underscores the Lord’s predominance over the angels, as “refulgence,” or “reflection” of the Father; and as the “exact representation” of the Father’s being.  Christ is placed on par with Wisdom—formerly regarded as “sharing with God,” in both a cosmic role, and as one applied to the study of salvation.  


(John 1:1-18)  “Eternity enfleshed in time” is the gift of grace we call  Immanuel—“God-with-us.”  In the Word, God speaks the language of our flesh and blood—in the pulsing of our needs and aspirations and also in the shadows of our sinful, darker side. 

Before the Liturgical changes of Vatican II, today’s Gospel text was proclaimed at the end of every Holy Mass, thereby earning for itself the misnomer, “the Last Gospel.”  Even though now discontinued in the new Liturgy, it did serve the purpose of climaxing every celebration with the compelling and beautiful truth of the Incarnation.  Therein, Jesus is presented to us a not only the “bearer” of the Word, but He is also its “content…” the “Word-made flesh”—at once the Son of God…and God—Himself  

The Incarnation

Christmas is all about the Incarnation—meaning God’s Son coming to earth as a human being.  In so doing, Jesus conferred upon each person the dignity of becoming a child of God.  It is a mystery of love, constituting the very heart of Christian faith.  

If someone wants to really understand, and be “in touch” with ordinary people, you have to go somewhere where no one recognizes you.  You have to see what they see, hear what they hear and live how they live.  Understanding it in an “abstract” way, is different than “feeling” it with your whole being.  

In Jesus, God drew near to us in person.  He became one of us.  Jesus is the true gift of Christmas.  Far from being “at a distance,” as the popular song suggests, Jesus birth portends a life spent “in close quarters” with humanity. 

God always meets us wherever we are.  His taking humanity upon Himself does not mean we have to reject our own humanity in order to know Him.  Jesus’ life was meant to show us how to live, in fullness of humanity, uniting the sprit and holiness of heaven with our frail constitutions, at once.  

Our Blessed Lord simultaneously has become our Brother, our Savior and our Lord.  Without Him, we would only have some abstract way to relate to God, and our souls would be empty, as were the countless generations of people, of whom we read in Scripture, anticipating the coming of the Messiah.  His life, spent as a human, like us, walking our streets, wearing our shoes, teaching us The Way of God, is precisely what we celebrate at Christmas.  

The Son of God came to us, not as our judge, but as our Redeemer.  As God’s children, we received from Him our dignity.  We are not mere creatures, stumbling through existence with nothing more than instinct to guide us, but at one with our Creator, in a manner nothing else could have given us.  

Archbishop Fulton Sheen once gave a talk, wherein he likened the Incarnation of Jesus to a person having the intellect and soul of a human, being born into a world solely populated by dogs.  Such a man-dog would be unable to relate to his fellow creatures, except as one of them, all the while having the superior nature of a human being within him.  Such a dichotomy of being, Sheen said, was similar to what the divine Son of God faced when He became a Man, living among men on earth.  Possessing the full nature of God, Himself, He was left to relate to His fellow humans from the perspective of a simple man.  This analogy gives us some inkling what Our Blessed Lord Jesus may have felt as He interacted with people of earth.  

A realization of this may be what prompted the psalmist to write: “What is man, that You are mindful of him?  And the son of man, that You have visited him?  For You have made him [merely] lower than the angels, and [yet] have crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8.)   In reality, Jesus’ coming to earth so elevated our “status” in the consideration of our Creator is virtually incomprehensible. 

Christmas—a Feast of the Heart

Christmas shows us the heights to which human beings can reach.  Setting Himself as the Example, Jesus became our most precious possession, as He was for God.  He could have come to us with power and wealth.  Indeed, the ancient prophets, and even people through the ages anticipated the Messiah arriving as a conquering King, to rescue them from their sorry lot in life.  It helps us understand why so many—then, and still so many today—have not recognized Our Blessed Lord as the Messiah, like we Christians do.  

If He had come as a mighty King, we would have bowed and worshipped Him, to be sure.  We would have felt weak and insignificant, which we surely would have been.  His wealth would have made us more readily feel our own poverty in comparison.  For some, His presence would have evoked a feeling of envy, and would have done great damage to our hearts.  

But He didn’t come to us that way.  He, Himself came in weakness and poverty, even by the standards of a first century A.D. world.  His weakness, though, made us aware of our own power; and His poverty showed us our riches, and gave us a sense of compassion—bringing our hearts to life!

Christmas, then, indeed, is a feast of the heart, revealing in a small way what the heart of God is like.  It also shows us our own capabilities, as we open our hearts, and begin to live.  What makes us human is not so much our ability to think, but our ability to love.

To the extent to which we open our hearts to God and to one another, we will experience something of the “great joy” the angels announced to the shepherds so many centuries ago.  Joy is the fruit of love….  Joy is an overflowing heart….  

May God Richly Bless You!


God So Loved the World-Glad.docx

There is no recording of Holy Mass for today.  We are "at sea," traveling to Hawaii. 


Edited by Father Michael
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