by Father Peter J. Daly
“WE NEED a little Christmas, right this very minute.”
Auntie Mame sings those words in the musical “Mame.” The song reminds us that Christmas brings joy.
We all could use some joy. There are always reasons for joy at Christmas. It might be a good idea to remind ourselves of them.
Above all, there is the basic message of the birth of Christ. God is with us. He does not just stand far off from His creation and look at it suffer. He enters into His creation and loves it. He comes as a little bundle of love, a baby, so that we might approach Him without fear.
This Christmas, there are some special reasons for joy.
First, we can rejoice that our U.S. troops are coming home from Iraq. After nine years of war, they are coming home. Alleluia!
They will now be out of harm’s way and home with their families for Christmas. We are grateful for their service. We grieve for the losses of war, not just American lives, but all lives lost and injured in the horror of war.
Many of our troops are coming home with injuries: physical, emotional and spiritual. We should try to love them back to wholeness. The church now has a new ministry of restoring those traumatized by war.
Second, we can rejoice when friends and relatives find a job. Unemployment is a spiritual crisis. When people find work, a whole family can rejoice. Too many people are still unemployed, but we can rejoice that some are finding work. Every new job is a victory.
A few of my parishioners who have been unemployed for a long time have recently found jobs. One of my relatives who is my age, 61, recently found a job after two years of searching.
Work brings not only income, but dignity and peace.
Third, we can rejoice when our Church performs acts of love. This time of year, there are many good hearts reaching out to those in need.
This year, our parish started a food pantry. It distributes food to needy families each week.
At Thanksgiving, we helped 82 families with holiday dinners. The parishioners have done it all. In addition, they’ve kept our program for the local homeless going.
Churches provide shelter for people who would otherwise have no room in the inn. That would please the baby who was born in a stable.
On a personal level, I can rejoice at being alive for another Christmas. If it were not for modern medicine, I probably would not have seen another Christmas. Only a few weeks ago, I went through open-heart surgery. Now, every day seems like a wonderful gift. When I wake up in the morning, I am so grateful to see the sun, feed my cat, eat my cereal and say my prayers.
Doctors, nurses, technicians, physicians’ assistants, social workers, therapists and all the support staff of hospitals and nursing homes deserve special thanks at Christmas. They mean life to people like me. They participate in the healing mission of Christ.
Finally, I am grateful for our Church. Despite all her defects and flaws, bruises and sins, she is still Christ made manifest in our world.
In the Church, we touch the body of Christ in the Eucharist and in living persons.
In the Church, we hear His saving words spoken just as if He were still living among us – because He is![hr] Father Peter J. Daly writes a syndicated column for Catholic News Service.