Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,
Greetings to all of you as we gather to celebrate the Birth of Jesus this week. It is a time of great joy for families with children. The anticipation of gifts yet to be opened grows day by day. Families gather sometimes from other states to be together and share their love for each other.
But we know the reason for the gathering and for the gift giving is that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus. It is a time that we recognize that God sent his Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus - God, to be born as a human being. Why did God do that? God has loved us so much that in the course of time, He saw that human beings were wrapped up in sin and there was no way they could get unwrapped by the effects of that sin.
So into the world God’s son was sent to make it possible to be freed from that surrounding sin. The power of God, the Holy Spirit, came to Mary and she became the one through whom the Son of God, Jesus, was to enter into our world. God’s love came into the world as a person - a baby, born in Bethlehem.
God becoming human in Jesus, made all the difference. The whole life of Jesus, from those first moments born in a stable, to his public ministry, teaching, healing, suffering death and resurrection, to his sending of the Holy Spirit - his whole life with us enabled us to be forgiven. The power of sin in individual lives could be taken away. We could now share in the very resurrection life of Jesus in eternal life. That’s how much God loves us.
May we remember the reason for our gatherings to celebrate the birth of Jesus - God’s great love for us. May we return that love as we touch the lives of family, friends and everyone we meet these special days.
In the weeks before Christmas, like most of us priests, I have been helping with Advent Penance services. St. Pius X, St. Francis, OLIH and St. Luke’s saw many people taking advantage of the forgiveness of sin offered in Reconciliation. It is a chance for the love and mercy of our God to touch individual souls.
On Monday 12/11, I concelebrated the funeral of Trevor Schwager, 17 year old Dowling Catholic High School senior, who died in a traffic accident. Fr. Zach Kautzky was the main celebrant and gave the homily. We motioned to the very large crowd gathered in the DCHS gym - near 2,000 people, saying that this gathering was evidence that a village is involved in the life of one life, Trevor. He listed the many lives that touched Trevor and the lives that he touched.
In reality, that is true of each person. We are touched by so many people and we touch the lives of so many. As we continue our celebration of the birth of Jesus, may we all recognize that Jesus is reaching out to touch us through so many different persons and in so many different ways. God is persistent and will never stop reaching out to our souls with His love. During these special days of Christmas, let us open our hearts and lives to that love and presence in Jesus our new born Lord and Savior.
Merry Christmas to each of you and to your families.
Fr. Larry Hoffmann