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Dec 8, 2016

Dear Friends in Christ,

This week we celebrate Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means to “rejoice” I have heard many
conversations about consumerism during Christmas. Some people take the position of buying many gifts for children and others think this takes away from the true meaning of Christmas which is Jesus. There has to be a way to celebrate Christmas with fun parties and not lose the awe of Christmas.

During daily Mass I told the students of St. Jude School, that Christmas was coming and we would be having a lot of fun, eat good food and there might even be presents for us. Then I asked, “Are these gifts, food and fun the most important things of Christmas?” I thought it was precious when they answered in an emphatic, “No! Jesus is the most important.” I could tell they knew the right thing to say, but on the inside they could not hold back that excitement of the fun.

I know my dear parents of the parish teach their children that Jesus is the meaning of the season of Christmas. Yet, we must spend some quality time in prayer with Jesus. Otherwise we will know the importance of “Christmas is Jesus” in theory but in action we will live another way.

Once again the Gospel refers to John the Baptist as the one whose role it is to prepare us for the One who is to come. Through the prophet Malachi, the Jews’ expectation of the return of Elijah, who will prepare the way for the promised
Messiah, has grown. But they have come to view him as a figure of great power, someone who will sweep men away. So they fail to recognize Elijah’s presence in the person of John the Baptist, whose only power is that of the Spirit of God,
calling all people to conversion of heart in order to receive the Christ. How many times in my life do I fail to recognize the presence of Christ in my life because I’m seeking something other than Christ’s promises to his followers? Christ doesn’t always offer an easy path of comfort and consolation.

I can’t help but think of the shepherds who the angels visit on that Christmas night. The shepherds who find the infant Jesus laying in a manger. They are not living a life of comfort and consolation as they do the hard work of a shepherd. Yet, they are hungry for a Savior. Therefore, they are ready. God is very creative to make some of the first witnesses to Jesus some shepherds who occupy low social standing.

Let us continue to enter into Christmas prayer by following all the characters in the Christmas story. We will find ourselves in awe of the great mystery of the birth of Jesus and we will celebrate that great mystery with all our loved ones and as a Church.

Happy Gaudete Sunday (rejoice),

Fr. Cory