But if you take each one of these great writers, there is one theme that is constantly repeated concerning this day. It is the theme of the generosity of God in allowing his only Son to come from heaven to earth to walk throughout the streets of Bethlehem and Galilee and die on a Cross. That one theme of generosity is constantly seen in all of their writings. When you analyze this theme of generosity it makes Christmas probably the most outstanding day in the history of the world. God entering this world in the person of Jesus Christ who would give us more generosity by dying on a cross for us and guaranteeing us a place in the eternal kingdom he calls heaven.
It is wonderful to write about all of the accidentals concerning the Christmas story, the manger, the wise men, the shepherds, the angelic choir singing Glory to God in the Highest, but these are merely God's way of highlighting the generosity of the Son whom he brought to earth. This is the Son who would go throughout all of Jerusalem preaching about love, preaching about generosity, and then as a result of it be put to death. All throughout the centuries, Catholics have been inspired by the man from Galilee who cured the lepers, who gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and speech to the dumb. We celebrate, in our Christian culture today, a calendar of men and women who from that first moment in Bethlehem went to the ends of the world teaching about the love and generosity of God's Son. Today, we as Catholics, have a legacy of men and women who endured tremendous sacrifices, went through tremendous pain for the sake of the gospel of love started by Jesus Christ two thousand years ago. Our calendar of saints, not only includes the saints of the past who were formerly canonized like St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Thomas or St. Jude, it also highlights the role of Mary, the mother of Christ, at that first Bethlehem. It also singles out St. Joseph, the foster father of Christ, who spent the rest of his life preparing his Son, Jesus Christ, so that he would grow up and bring to the world a gospel of love and a gospel of generosity. With all of the mistakes made by Christians and Catholics there is no doubt in any scholars mind that the world is a much better place because of the birth of Jesus Christ. There is no doubt in the minds of many famous historians and sociologists that the world is a better place because men and women like yourselves have brought the gospel not only into your homes, but into your hearts.
When you think of all the good that has been done, all the acts of kindness that have been performed because of a baby in Bethlehem that grew to be an adult and gave us a set of values and lessons, when you think of all the good that has been done by this one event called Christmas, we should be very proud because with all our human failures we can look back on two thousand years of history knowing that the world has been made better by the message of the gospel of love. Every one who has done any spiritual reading can highlight a famous saint whose life story, such as St. Vincent dePaul devoting himself to the poor or St. Francis of Assisi devoting himself to the homeless. All of us have read these stories over and over again in our Catholic educational formation. We all know the generosity of a woman like Dorothy Day or a priest like Father Damien. There is a story I would like to share with you that really is one of the more unusual I have ever heard.
A few years ago I was asked by NBC to help write the script for Mother Teresa when she was being interviewed for an hour program on NBC. From that script came a story that I think is one of the most remarkable I have ever heard. She told a story of a young couple that were planning to get married when they heard of the poverty situation in Calcutta. Instead of having a lavish wedding, they took all the money they were planning to spend on their wedding and gave it to Mother Teresa. It was into the thousands of dollars. They had a small private wedding that was relatively inexpensive. For their honeymoon, they went to Calcutta to meet for the first time Mother Teresa. She had received their donation and know how it came about. She took this newly married couple into the house of the dying and presented them to a man dying of leprosy. Through translators the young man spoke to the newly married couple and he said, "a few weeks ago I was like an animal living in the streets of Calcutta. Today, I can die as an angel of Christ because of your generosity."
It has often been said that the greatest kind of charity or generosity you can exercise is that which is done with total anonymity. Over the years people, like yourselves, have supported hundreds of missionaries, priests and nuns in foreign, pagan lands living under atrocious conditions. You have helped these missionaries and nuns bring the gospel of love into their lives as Christ brought the gospel of love into the world in which he first entered. Today, even though everything might not be going the way you hoped it would be going, even though we have a lot of things to improve and correct in our society, we should pause to thank God for sending his Son into the world and to remember our Christmas' of the past are due to the first Christmas two thousand years ago. Christmas, if it is anything, is the story of the generosity of Christ. It is a reminder that the same generosity should be implemented as long as we live. God love you.
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