December 2005 - Volume 10, Issue 5

Editorial - Christmas 2005

By Rev. Mark Connolly

Christmas Tree

Christmas 2005 is a strange season for many, many people. When you think of the mothers and fathers who have lost their sons in Iraq, extending them seasons greetings is a hard thing to do and a hard thing for them to hear. When you think of the tragedies that have taken place because of Hurricanes Wilma and Katrina and the other hurricanes that have ripped through our country, we know there are thousands of people who will really not enjoy the blessings of the Christmas season as you and I will. And to all of those, our heartfelt prayers and best wishes that this coming new year will be filled with greater blessings for them than in the past.

Nativity Scene

Life will go on, however, for millions of people during this Christmas season and if the Christmas season is to have any meaning, we have to go back to the fundamentals of the Christmas story. God sent his only Son into this world so that one day that Son would teach a gospel of love, a gospel of compassion and a gospel of charity. That Son would one day, because he preached these gospels, be forced to carry a cross through the streets of Jerusalem and then in the most humiliating type of death, the crucifixion, he would be nailed on a cross between two thieves. We celebrate this Christmas story by remembering the life and times of Jesus Christ. And if that story has any meaning for us even though it is 2,000 years of age, it should find us in our own personal way bringing into our society the same qualities that Christ brought into his society. When you think this is a God of forgiveness and we read this in the Lord's Prayer when he says, "Forgive those who trespass against you". When you think this is the same Christ who offered forgiveness to the woman taken in adultery; when you think this is the same Christ that offered forgiveness to the good thief just a few feet from him on another cross, this Christmas season should remind all of us that we follow a Christ who preferred to carry a cross than to carry a grudge. We cannot go on year after year in Christian families having what has been called the unforgiving heart. If we do, we are missing the major teaching of Jesus Christ to forgive those who have trespassed against us.

If you study the life of Christ and his ministry, you might recall that Peter, the Apostle, once said to him, "Master, we must forgive each other seven times a day". And Christ answered by saying, "but Peter, the new law I give you is that you must be willing to forgive 70 times 7 times a day". In biblical language, the expression 70 times 7 refers to the infinite amount of times that God has forgiven all his people. That kind of forgiveness is something that Christ taught and that we have to implement.

When you think of Pope Paul VI in 1968 at the United Nations he stood before the totally filled auditorium and said, "War, never again, never again". But then he added, "forgiveness has to become a reality and a daily practice in each one of our lives". We all know the offenses the countries have committed against each other, we all know the offenses we have committed against each other, but there is one hopeful approach that all of us can implement B forgiving those who have trespassed against us. It does not start with some other person, it should start with me. The teachings of Jesus Christ on this Christmas day are still the same as they were 2,000 years ago. Each one of us must leave this world a better place than we found it. Each one of us must imitate the life and words of Christ when he walked throughout this earth. There is no better way than by bringing into your family the same forgiveness that Christ brought into the world 2000 years ago.