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Dear friends,

Merry Christmas! A special welcome to family, friends and visitors joining us for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. We are glad you are here, joining us for this great feast day. There is much to bring before our Prince of Peace: our joys and sorrows, our struggles and successes, our losses from this past year but also our wins, especially the ways we have grown with the Lord. This life is a journey, a pilgrimage that unfolds before us, and the road is undulating with pitfalls and switchbacks but also hidden vistas. And while on the road, we count on the strength and support of loved ones, with the light and love of the Lord to guide us.

Today we commemorate and celebrate the event of the Lord’s birth, when the light broke through the darkness, and all was made new by the presence of the newborn King. We have been centering on the action of God breaking into our lives, miracles, those wonderful signs the Lord offers to reveal himself and show us a way. Today, we arrive at the culmination.

If pressed to rank the divine in-breaking upon our world, I would place the Incarnation and Nativity as the greatest miracle the world has known; second would be the Immaculate Conception of Mary; and third is the great wonder of the Holy Eucharist, Christ’s gift of himself to us as spiritual food. All these wonders share a certain hiddenness. People can walk by the church, or even come to church week after week and not really appreciate or understand the great gift of Jesus in the Eucharist. Surveys say more than half of Catholics do not believe in the real presence. So too, people can say of Mother Mary - what does it matter that she was conceived without original sin? We do not see a difference in our lives. And I think of that stable or cave in Bethlehem. So many just walked by, without noticing or even being aware of the hidden majesty of our Lord’s birth.

Consider the shepherds, the first ones to worship the newborn king. The angel announced to them; they were afraid; they were told to take courage and go to Bethlehem where they would see a sign: “You will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” (Lk 2:12) That would be a very interesting sign indeed, but a hidden one. They would have to look for it and seek it out.

Sometimes the miracles are so great, so public and ostentatious that no one can doubt them, not really, but some do. Some even doubt great miracles. My sister Nicole was electrocuted on a wire outside our home; she was seven. At first her arm turned all black. The doctors said it was dead and had to be removed. Everyone was praying, and over the course of a day or two, the color returned to her arm. No medical explanation. The doctors could say nothing, but it did not prevent some from doubting.

Other times miracles are so hidden, almost secret. I remember distinctly Jesus’ invitation to be his priest, like it was yesterday. He spoke to me in my heart in adoration. I had spent time in adoration every week for a few years. Never had I experienced anything like that, some gentle sweetness, a word, that distinct peace, but this moment was different, a calling with conviction. No thunder or blindness or falling from horses, but just as real and positive. No one could convince me otherwise. My own personal miracle, how fortunate am I?

So, I am a believer in miracles, and I invite you to step out in faith too. Behold the manger scene and say: “Wow, that is a miracle!” The Lord has done great things for us today, let’s make it known to the ends of the earth (see: Isaiah 12:1-16).

May God bless you and yours this Christmas!
Fr. Wilson