Up Front and Personal

God’s Christmas Gift Is Unconditional Love

By Msgr. Steven Ferrari

After reading several pages of Thomas Moore’s recent book “The Soul Of Christmas,” I stopped to gaze out the window. I was seated by the window on the upper level of the Megabus on its southbound journey to Philadelphia. It was mid-December as I travelled to visit my nephew, Christopher, for an overnight in the City of Brotherly Love.

A large billboard on the side of the glamourous New Jersey Turnpike outside Newark caught my attention. Portrayed was a silhouette of a couple’s faces in a heart-shaped image. Beneath the heart were the bold letters “CLICK. FLIRT. LOVE.” as an ad for an on-line dating/match service.

The wording caused me to reflect, at 65 miles an hour. In a sense, I mused, isn’t that what God sometimes does with us? Something ‘clicks,’ makes a connection, catches me off-guard perhaps in my mind, my heart, my spirit, as God draws me, teases me, invites me into a deeper relationship with Him, into falling into love with Him again and again.

God is always, at every moment, deeply in love with us. God continuously calls our attention, our awareness to that loving presence through people, things, events and prayer every day.

In his wonderful book, “Come, Holy Spirit,” Bishop Francis X. Ford, M.M., whose cause for canonization Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio officially kicked off at the 100th anniversary Mass of Bishop Ford’s ordination on Dec. 3, wrote: “God’s love for mankind is a possessing love, a yearning love, more so than any friendship on Earth.”

In homilies several times a year, I proclaim to my parishioners at St. Teresa’s (and maybe they are tired of hearing it, or me!) that “God loves you completely, absolutely, totally, at this very moment. God cannot love you any more that He does right now. God cannot love you any less than He does right now. No matter what you may do or say, or not, God’s love doesn’t change. Because God IS Love, and it is God’s very nature to love indiscriminately.”

Love is what the birth of Jesus is all about. As St. John wrote in his Gospel, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.”

Many people, in particular the young, may feel unloveable or unloved. Tragically, too many are bullied or picked on, abused, rejected or neglected, criticized or humiliated by others. Oh, how they need and long to experience the loving kindness of another, of a God who lives in the words and actions of caring individuals and families. Each one, in his or her own way, can be a conduit of God’s love.

The baby born that first Christmas Day continues to cause a ‘click,’ a connection, a spark to go off in our brains and in our hearts, flirting with us, attracting us into the depths of God’s love, to be shared with each one we encounter.

Love is born this Christmas Day, and every day.

Msgr. Ferrari is the pastor of St. Teresa’s parish, Woodside.

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