Day 8 of Mary & Joseph’s Pilgrimage from Nazareth to Bethlehem
Hello. I’m Father Gilles Surprenant. It is the day before Christmas Eve. Christmas is so close now. We thank God for bringing us together via Salt + Light for this live Mass in Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in downtown Montreal. Television air time is so very expensive to produce; so we appreciate your support by way of your prayers and donations. Thank you.
Sign of the + Greeting Penitential Rite
Listen attentively to the sounds of silence…. Can you hear the little bells on the donkey’s harness? It is day 8 of the 9-day pilgrimage of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Mary was very heavy with the Child Jesus still in her womb. How difficult and uncomfortable it must have been for her to ride on the donkey; yet she did not complain. Sadly, we may at times be inclined to complain, making life more difficult for those around us, and we may forget to be grateful and may neglect showing others our appreciation. Let us ask the Lord to forgive us….
There is a divine glow coming from the love of God and shining brightly upon our souls as we approach the radiant days of the Christmas Season. Of course we see more and more lights shining their Christmas beauty – whether you prefer waiting for Christmas Eve to turn on your exterior lights or began lighting up the front of your home as early as the beginning of Advent.
More dramatic is the radiant light shining on us from the loving face of Jesus, warming the cold and damp of our minds and hearts. As children see their parents expending great effort to prepare for Christmas, they might be inclined to take greater care to please their parents and to avoid having conflicts with their siblings; they may even volunteer to help more spontaneously.
Employers may be more inclined to show patience and gratitude to their employees; while workers may be inclined to work harder and give their employers a better effort and result for their labors. Siblings may have already begun to show each other deeper understanding and compassion through better words and more gestures of kindness, gratitude, and generosity. We may even begin to notice the poor and homeless, who suffer so much from feeling invisible, and we may stop to chat with them and ask them how they are managing and offer them a gift.
All year long, but especially during these holy days of Advent followed by the radiant days of Christmas, the Holy Spirit is constantly at work: attracting our minds, hearts, and spirits to adopt better attitudes of understanding, patience, kindness, and compassion. As the script writer of the classic movie “Miracle on 34th Street” had the character Kris Kringle put it: “This time of year inspires people to lay aside the more hateful and selfish tendencies that usually tend to dominate our lives, in favor of mutual understanding, kindness, and generosity….”
It is necessary and good for us to cooperate with this work of the Holy Spirit within us, because God – the Most Holy Trinity – is a blazing furnace of divine love. If we accept to be purified now, during our life on Earth, of every hateful and selfish tendency, and replace these with thoughts, words, and gestures of kindness, forgiveness, compassion, and generosity; then when we come face to face with God the meeting will be joyous and not painful.
On the other hand, if we insist on complaining, pouting, being miserable, making trouble for others, and thinking only of ourselves; then when we come face to face before God – who is an intense furnace of divine love – God’s blazing fire of love will be shockingly painful indeed.
We can see the clear difference between our ways and God’s ways in what happened around the birth and circumcision of John the Baptist. The whole family was taken up with the family traditions which would require the child to be given his father’s name. Elizabeth very courageously stood her ground when she insisted, with her husband Zechariah, on doing what God had asked them to do through the Angel Gabriel; that is, to name the child John.
These are privileged days of grace for us. As we continue our own journey of faith in God – personally and as a family – we have these wonderful witnesses present to us to encourage us: Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, the Archangel Gabriel, and the two infants: John who would become the Baptist, and Jesus, who would become our Saviour.
It is an act of love at this time of year to remember before God all those who are unwanted, unremembered, and unloved; as well as those who are unable to make room for them; because all of us are personally loved by God: the Father, + the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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© 2006-2021 All rights reserved Fr. Gilles Surprenant, Associate Priest of Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montreal QC
© 2006-2021 Tous droits réservés Abbé Gilles Surprenant, Prêtre Associé de Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montréal QC
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