Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,
Many thanks for your prayers during my week off for Covid, and for the whole staff keeping things running while I was gone. It is a relief to be able to take time off like that and know everything is in good hands. It is good to be back and feeling better.
Christmas is now only a couple of weeks away. I want each of us to think about who needs to be next to you this Christmas. Someone in your family, a child, spouse, grandchild. A friend you know who has not been practicing their faith for whatever reason. Someone who has not been back to Church since the shutdowns during Covid. Someone who perhaps has no faith at all but is looking for a home. My first Christmas as a priest I met a woman who came to Mass and found a home. She felt drawn to come even though she was not Christian. As she described it, even though she did not understand it herself it just felt right being in the Church and sensing the presence of God. Many people are just awaiting an invitation.
Think about who needs to be next to you this Christmas. Scripture is filled with stories of those who bring others to Jesus. The way that they encounter Jesus is through those who intervene on their behalf. Andrew brought his brother Peter to meet Jesus - that encounter changed his life forever. Martha and Mary brought Jesus to the tomb of their brother Lazarus and received him back in return. The centurion came and pleaded on behalf of his servant. A man brought his son to be healed of his possession and seizures. The list goes on.
One of my favorites is that of the paralyzed man who was lowered through the ceiling of the house in Capernaum. These four friends brought their friend who otherwise could never have come right to Jesus’ feet. Because he could not bring himself, they brought him. There are many who are paralyzed - embittered by life, embittered by things that have happened and perhaps they are wondering why God allowed those things to happen at all. Those who are paralyzed by the ruts they are living in and not sure how to move out of them. Taking a step toward God becomes too hard unless there is someone that can accompany them.
There is something so powerful about this season, a season of longing and encounter, a season of hope, a season of God moving and doing the impossible. This Christmas Jesus wants to move and work. That story is a great model of what prayer does - in Spirit we bring those we love and pray for to Jesus. But we need to also do this literally as well. We pray but we also invite. You might be surprised who says yes to your invitation. Doing so we can also carry someone else to Jesus’ feet. He does the rest from there.
So, who needs to be next to you this Christmas? Pray and then ask. Then see Jesus work.