Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I am keenly aware of what a gift the Holy Father gave to me this year in assigning me to the Archdiocese of St. Louis. More than its beautiful buildings (and they are beautiful!), and more than its amazing history (and it is amazing!), each of you is God’s gift to me this Christmas. I thank God, and I thank you, for that gift.
The whole world seems to pause at Christmas. There’s a deep sense of peace and joy. A deeper, more fulfilling kind of life seems possible — one in which heaven draws near to earth. And faith tells us: that is exactly true! Jesus not only came into the world 2,000 years ago, but He also continues to bring heaven and earth together each day.
One of the beauties of the Catholic faith is that it gives us the opportunity to experience a little Christmas every week. Two thousand years ago, in humility, heaven came to earth in the form of a baby. Every Sunday, in humility, heaven comes to earth again in the form of bread and wine.
Jesus comes to us in all humility and offers His peace. The question is, will we welcome Him with humility? The sad fact is, we can ignore Him.
The law of physical realities — like a rock or a tree — is that you can’t ignore them. Well, you can try. But there are consequences if you do. They assert their reality when you bump up against them!
The law of psychological realities — like the need to apologize or forgive — is that you can ignore them. But there are still consequences if you do. They assert their reality in the turmoil we experience within ourselves, and the alienation we experience from others. We bump up against them psychologically.
What, then, is the law of spiritual realities? If we look to biblical history, or look at our own culture, we can find the answer. People can pretend that God doesn’t exist, or that God hasn’t spoken. Or, believing that God exists, people can still refuse to respond with their lives, preferring to give all their time and energy to worldly things. But there are spiritual consequences. When people walk away from Jesus, they walk into alienation from God, and the sadness and anger and despair that result. We can see that in our culture. When people draw close to Jesus, they receive peace even in the midst of hardship. It’s our job to let our culture witness that peace in us.
If a doctor offers us medicine, and we refuse to take it, there are consequences for our physical health. If a psychologist offers us counsel, and we refuse to cooperate, there are consequences for our mental and emotional health. Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world to offer us eternal life. Every Sunday, He comes again with the same offer. We can accept that offer, or refuse it. The consequences for our spiritual health are eternal.
This Christmas, and this coming year, let’s welcome the Prince of Peace into our lives. And then, let’s offer the world our witness to the peace we receive from following Him.