I hope everyone's Christmas was as nice as mine! It was wonderful to see so many people at Mass – especially on Christmas Eve. Celebrating the Solemn Mass at Midnight was the highlight of my Christmas – and I want to thank all those who filled the Church for it! The choir also deserves thanks for leading us in song and lending a great deal of solemnity to that Mass. It was a fitting celebration of our Savior's birth. I also want to make special mention of the Children's Nativity Pageant that preceded the packed Mass at 4 PM on Christmas Eve. They did a great job telling and acting out the story of Jesus' birth! Thanks also to all those grown-ups who worked behind the scenes to make the pageant so nice!
After Mass on Christmas I went to my sister, Christine's, home for dinner. Lots of family and friends were there – including my mother. The food was great, and we had a wonderful time together. I hope you had fun with those close to you this Christmas!
Last week I told you that Christmas is so important that we celebrate it not just for a day, but for a whole season. This season is filled with feasts (holy days) that help us celebrate and understand the meaning of Christmas more completely. We have already celebrated Christ's birth on Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family last Sunday, and the Feast of Mary, the Holy Mother of God on New Year's Day. Today we celebrate another great Feast of the Christmas Season, the Epiphany. The word Epiphany means to "reveal or make known something which was hidden". We call this feast Epiphany because the star revealed to the Magi – or Wise Men – that the baby lying in the manger was no ordinary baby. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Savior of the World.
For us today, the Epiphany is an invitation to think prayerfully about a few things. First, we should ask ourselves how we "reveal" our faith each day. Are people able to "see" Jesus in us? Acts of charity, regular attendance at Holy Mass, and humility and patience in dealing with others are some ways we can reveal our faith to the world.
Secondly, the Epiphany invites us to see the universal nature of Christ's mission. The fact that the Magi were foreigners who came from far-away places reminds us that Jesus came for all people. This is one reason why our Catholic Church teaches respect for every human person – from the immigrant to the old friend to the very ill to the unborn child. How well do we live up to this?
Finally, the gifts of the Magi invite us to ask ourselves what gifts we will give Jesus in this New Year. Will we devote ourselves more completely to prayer? Be more generous towards the poor? Strive to grow in patience or break some bad habit? Think about this today!
Some of us are old enough to remember when Epiphany was the end of the Christmas Season. Since the reform of the Church calendar following Vatican II in the 1960's, the Season extends through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which will be celebrated next Sunday. This means that, as Catholics, our Christmas Season still has a week to go.
Try to keep the Christmas spirit alive in your home and heart this week. Keep the trees and decorations up, play Christmas music, and – most of all – continue to meditate and reflect on the birth of Jesus. Make the most of the Christmas Season the Church gives us, so that the joy of Christ's birth may truly touch your heart and be evident in your life throughout this New Year.
Happy New Year!