I have thought often of what it means to love truly and deeply, what it means to do the best by people and to bring about their greatest happiness. This has led to me the conclusion that it is better to speak openly and honestly rather than to flatter and deceive. I consider it to be the greatest gift possible to be surrounded by people that tell you not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear.
How difficult life must be when you surround yourself with people who deceive? You live in an illusion that could shatter at the first storm cloud and the first trial. To have truly deep relationships, you must be willing to risk offending, risk having hurt feelings and perhaps even losing some. For this reason, this Christmas I have resolved myself to speak to you plainly.
On this day when your belly is full, consider that perhaps there will one day when your belly is not full or when the delight of taste is taken from you on the day when death visits. On this day when you are rejoicing and celebrating with family, consider that one day you will be mourning as you see everything around you crumble. Those who trust in what their eyes can see and their mouths can taste find that their joy is like a puff of smoke that vanishes at the first storm, and because I love you, I wish to spare you that.
I do not speak ill of anyone or to be the cause of division, but I am aware that on this day many will visit us who are not living according to God’s law. Some come perhaps because they feel lost and the midst of despair. My message to you is that in the Church is the answers for which your heart longs. Here is the path to heaven, here is the balm the soothes the weary mind. In this divine mystery lies your salvation because in them Christ is born anew.
To others, perhaps you come here because of family and for the sake of custom. I assume you think highly of yourselves because all people who know not God’s law account themselves good because they either hold his law in contempt or they are ignorant of it. Many think nothing of ignoring the just command to worship our Lord in the Eucharist on Sundays and Holy Days, to ignore the necessity of prayer, to live as a fornicator and adulterer, to commit all many of sins without the least inclination towards repentance.
I know this sounds harsh, but I tell you it is grounded in love for I speak as one who is more concerned with your salvation then your donation in the collection basket. You might prefer that I tickle your ears on this day, but if I were to do that, I would be your enemy and not your friend. I account you a brother and sister, a mother or father. I desire you to know, love, and serve the Lord who is born to us this day that you might be happy with him for all eternity.
Fear not judgment in the tribunal of the confessional. When one approaches confession with even the slightest contrition, the angels and saints rejoice. Realize that many of us who now profess Christ and live by his Gospel were once as you were, fornicators, liars, thieves, or perhaps worse. Like you will find if you open your heart, there is not judgment when we repent and come to Christ but mercy and tenderness. But woe to you if you remain obstinate in your sin! To the hard hearted, Christ shows his justice and gives to each his due.
You might say to yourself, I don’t need this. I am happy and content.
Perhaps you carry your guilt conscience now with strength and vigor because it’s burden is not yet felt or because you have the vigor of youth in which to distract yourself. Beware, what is now a feather will one day become like a mountain that crushes you beneath its weight. Repent now and face the truth and no longer seek to drown your conscience in the pleasures of the flesh.
On this day, my greatest gift to you is to speak from the heart the things I have longed to say these past 6 years. Christ is born anew, and so he can come into your life if you repent and believe the Gospel.
Think often of the joys of heaven! What delight awaits those who forsake this world and die to self! You live in this world but a moment, but eternity lasts forever. Now is the day of your salvation, now is the time to embrace Christ.
Thank you for this reflection.