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Dear St. Martin’s Parishioners,

With only a day to spare, I’ll take the leap and wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I pray that the celebration of Jesus’ birth may fill you with joy. Although his birth took place many centuries ago in a far-off land, the sheer wonder of this event touches all of us. God now has a human face.

In the Old Testament the Jewish people were well aware of the reverence and honor due God because of his holiness. The second commandment enjoined them not to take God’s name in vain. When God or an angel appeared to an Old Testament figure, his or her immediate reaction was that this meant certain death. In Exodus 33:20, God instructs Moses, “you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live.” God is so unlike us, his being so far surpasses our own, that to come into his presence meant, in a certain sense, our annihilation. Yet there was another strand of thought in Judaism which dared to consider the possibility of God’s coming among us. Isaiah famously prophesied to King Ahaz, “a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanu-el” (“God with us”). This longing for God to make himself present to his people in the Messiah perdured through centuries of political and spiritual calamities. Finally, that hope and longing was answered in Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago.

The fact of Christmas can’t be overstated: God now has a human face. The all-holy God, who lives in inaccessible glory, has humbled himself to become a little baby. What Pilate will shout in derision some thirty years after his birth, we now receive with absolute wonder and joy: “Ecce homo!” “Behold the man!” The eternal splendor of God that shines on us in Jesus’ face will never be removed from us. I know that, because every day I celebrate the Eucharist. St. Teresa of Avila said, “For my part, O Eternal Father, I ask to be permitted to receive the heavenly Bread with such dispositions that, if I have not the happiness of contemplating Jesus with the eyes of my body, I may at least contemplate Him with the eyes of my soul. This is Bread which contains all sweetness and delight, and sustains our life.” In another place she says, “He is always looking at you; can you not turn the eyes of your soul to look at Him?” “Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let thy face shine that we may be saved!” (Ps. 80:19).

As we look forward to the New Year, I invite you to begin the year contemplating the face of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. We will have an hour of Eucharistic adoration from midnight to 1:00am on January 1.

Merry Christmas!

Fr. Dave

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