Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
There are some people who fear, maybe even dread, the approach of Christmas. It’s not Christmas itself that causes this fear but surrounding circumstances.
For some it’s the hassle and the extra work. For others it’s the strain put on their already overstretched finances. For others it’s the conflicts that may occur in families at Christmas time. And still for some others it is the fact that Christmas reawakens painful memories, the death of a loved one, or another tragedy that has taken place around this time of the year.
There are also those who experienced a loss during the year and that loss is felt again, intensely, at Christmas. The sight of others surrounded by loved ones reopens a wound that perhaps was beginning to heal. The result is intense loneliness.
Those who fear the coming of Christmas can find hope from the story of the first Christmas. There was plenty of fear present and it was only by relying on faith that they made it through.
Joseph was afraid when he found out that Mary was pregnant and it wasn’t his child. But an angel appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” Joseph, the just man, put his faith in God and trusted, and so overcame his fear and did what was right.
When Mary first heard the angel’s greeting when asked to be the mother of the Savior, he said to her, “Mary, do not be afraid. You have found favor with God.” The angel went on to tell her that she would conceive a son and name him Jesus, because he would save his people from their sins. Mary had faith in God and trusted, and made her “yes” to the angel.
The Gospel tells us that the shepherds in the field were afraid and the angel spoke to them, “Do not be afraid. I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
All of us are touched by fear at some time or another but we must not let it control us. Trust in God is that which enables us to turn fear into faith. To trust that God is watching over and taking care of us.
Christmas awakens our deepest longings, longings which only God can fulfill. May this final week of Advent find us opening our hearts fully to the Lord with absolute faith and trust, so that all our fears will be alleviated and we can then celebrate what Christmas is all about.
– Father Dennis
December 18, 2016