“Shhh, Why I Don’t Care If You Make it to Mass on Christmas Day!”

I know what you are thinking, “He is a priest, our pastor, and he is saying stay home on Christmas Day? He’s lost his mind!”  Well, not really.

You see, I want you to come today! I want you to bring your kids, your family and your friends, and even a neighbor or two! I want you to see how much effort we put into a beautiful Christmas for you and your family this year at Saint Miriam! The sights, the sounds, and the decorations are simply stunning! I want you to enjoy the ‘No fuss’ Christmas Pageant at 3:00pm with hot cocoa and a Christmas carol sing-a-log, and witness the Live Nativity and then witness us make history as a real live camel leads us – God’s people – into our first Christmas Mass of this year at 4:30pm! I want you to see a small child bring in the Infant Jesus and gently place him in His manger, and I want you to hear the lovely bells and sing the songs, and believe like a child all about the wonderous season that now holds us so firmly! You can even meet our parish’s newest Golden Retriever, Bailey! (Now what’s more Christmas than a puppy under the tree!)

So, that is my Christmas wish as a pastor this year. I need nothing more, I have a beautiful life, wonderful parish community, and breathtaking family and a miracle baby on the way, too. No, my life is not perfect, my finances often tight, my bills sometimes past due, people don’t always support or like me very much; my struggles are the same as yours, and yet I know that I am blessed in so many ways: you are one of the biggest!

One of my all time idols, Father Henri Nouwen, once told the story of a student who, many years after his graduation, returned to sit in his former college professor’s office where so many questions had been answered and so many problems had been solved. When the student entered, he told his professor that he didn’t need anything, he came just to visit, to be together. They sat for a while in silence and looked at each other. One broke the silence by telling the other how nice it was to see each other. The other agreed, and then there was more silence. Finally, the student said, “When I look at you it is as if I am in the presence of Christ.” The professor remembers that it did not startle or surprise him and that he could only respond with, “It is the Christ in you who recognizes the Christ in me.” The student replied with the most healing words Father Nouwen had heard in many years. “Yes, Christ indeed is in our midst.’ “From now on, wherever you go, or wherever I go, all the ground between us will be holy ground.”

This is how I have come to know Santa; the spirit of Christmas. This is how I have come to know each of you. And I am reminded especially at Christmastime, that each of you, for me on a daily basis, is the very face of our living Christ.

So, no, I don’t need you here at Christmas Day. I would rather you be with your family, gathered around your family Christmas tree or the dining room table, enjoying one another for as long as you can, because that is where I so long to be and no longer can…

Merry Christmas! I end by sending my greetings and prayers for a peaceful, blessed Christmas. This truly is a holy time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, born for love of us, born to set us free.

As always, you will be remembered in my prayers on Christmas Day. And I humbly ask you to remember me in your prayers, too. That’s the very best gift you could give me, besides showing up later today!

May our Infant Savior bless you abundantly throughout the Christmas season! Again, Merry Christmas!

To Jesus through Mary this holy night,

Monsignor Jim

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