I also offer my thanks to those who offered personal Christmas greetings, including sending cards and gifts. I cannot express the sense of gratitude I have to God for sending me to such a wonderful parish as St. Malachy.
The gifts that the Magi took to the child Jesus were a sign of His kingship (gold), His divinity (frankincense), and the death by which He would bring us salvation (myrrh). So the gifts we offer can be a sign of the presence of God in our world. That thought strikes as particularly fitting as we are now just a few months away from the official announcement of where On Mission for the Church Alive is going to take us. The bishop’s desire for building strong new parishes includes a hope that each parish will have the resources to make a serious effort at evangelization, taking the message of Christ’s love to the rest of our community. That effort includes those whose image of the Church is negative, including quite a few who grew up in our faith. One of the best ways to reach out to such people is to show them the joy that Christ brings. If we can remember what this holiday meant to us and the love that we received from those around us, then I hope we will continue to bring the love of Christ to everyone we meet, even if just by a simple greeting.
As we close out this special season, we settle back into the routine and get the new year up and running. I imagine that many of us will still be writing “2017” on our checks for a while. But as we get used to 2018, I hope the spirit of the Christmas season can continue with us so that we can be signs of God’s goodness to all around us. Think of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and the way he summed up the change in Ebenezer Scrooge, “And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of all of us.”