by Larry Peterson
We Catholics have our "Catholic Hall of Fame" (I call it that) which is filled with people we call saints. The Blessed Virgin Mary is undoubtedly the greatest of all saints and, as the Mother of God, she is highly honored above all others. But it is important to remember that when they were alive they did not walk around with glowing orbs wrapped around their heads for all to see. They walked and talked and ate and slept and got sick and even woke up "on the wrong side of the bed" at times...just like the rest of us. They were people like we are. But they had made a choice to open their hearts to God's grace and once they did there was no turning back. No matter what they were confronted with, whatever hardship, obstacle, injustice or whatever it might have been, they were determined to serve God before all else even if it meant giving up their very lives. This is how certain people are able to rip their "pride filled egos" from inside themselves and leave it in the pile of dust of what once was.
Christmas and the great lessons it teaches in giving of oneself to others is once again upon us. A young girl named Mary would listen to a message from the Angel Gabriel and unhesitatingly accept being the Mother of God. She would now be pregnant and unmarried. She did not understand any of it. She knew that under Jewish law this could mean her possible execution when people found out. It did not matter. Filled with the grace of God she gave all of her being to Him. She trusted Him completely. Her espoused, Joseph of Nazareth, a carpenter and "righteous" Jew, kicked his manly pride to the dusty curb and accepted the pregnant woman as his wife. He would love her with all his heart, protect her, provide her a home and be her best friend until the day he died. This was, indeed, a Holy Family.
We Christians believe that the infant born on that first Christmas night so long ago was and is the Son of God. The Creator Himself sent His only Son to teach us and to save us. What did He have to teach us? He had to first and foremost teach us how to love one another. Then we needed to learn that Pride leads to all sin. It is the parent of jealousy and greed, envy and anger, lust and gluttony. We needed to know how to conquer the great sin of pride. So the baby grew and became the Man that preached love and forgiveness. He was kind and caring and cured sick people. He taught us about the evils of "pride". After He finished teaching us how did He save us? He allowed us to kill Him. His Mom was there, watching and feeling the searing pain of Simeon's prophesied sword pierce her tender, loving heart. She gave Him to the world and watched as the world took Him away from her.
Jesus died for us. He poured out every last drop of His blood so we could once again have access to heaven. He did this out of pure love for each and every person that ever lived or will live. "We come to know and believe that God is Love and he who abides in Love abides in God and God in him" 1 John 4:16
Christmas begins the "Greatest story ever told". It is about love and forgiveness and kindness and sharing. It is about peace and joy. For children it can be about a man in a red suit with a "broad face and a little round belly, that shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly---". It is a beautiful thing, Christmas, a beautiful thing. How can you not love the goodness and peace it represents. God IS Love. I would like to join the millions of others around the world and say THANK YOU Lord for Christmas and all it represents.