December 24, 2023

Today, we celebrate the Fourth and final Sunday of Advent. With Christmas Eve falling on a Sunday this year, we have the shortest possible Fourth Week of Advent – not even a full day! The Christmas Season begins with our anticipation Masses at 3:00 pm today. But before that happens, we need to conclude the Season of Advent.

“Advent is the time we are given to welcome the Lord who comes to encounter us, and also to verify our longing for God, to look forward and prepare ourselves for Christ’s return.”

Pope Francis

This past week, our daily Scripture readings have been setting the stage for our Christmas celebration. Today, the person of Mary steps into our Advent spotlight, as we hear the familiar account of Gabriel’s Annunciation to her. We see Mary as a young maiden who lived in simplicity, even poverty. In Mary’s village of Nazareth, there were no magnificent buildings. Mary’s clothing would have been homespun. She would have gone with other women to the town’s single well to draw water. In her home, she would have been engaged in cleaning, gardening, cooking and sewing. The angel Gabriel brought the announcement to Mary in this humble setting. Mary’s initial response was fear and confusion. Gabriel seeks to help her to understand, and comforts her, so that she can respond. This significant Gospel brings our Advent preparations to a fitting conclusion. This afternoon, we begin the great celebration of God’s presence among us.

Please note that we have cancelled our regular 1:00 pm Mass for today in order to allow time for the church to be cleaned and for our Art & Environment Team to transform our worship space from Advent to Christmas. We thank you for your understanding.

We are anticipating capacity congregations at each of our 3:00 pm Christmas Eve Masses – in the Church and the Chapel. If you would like to avoid the crowds on Christmas Eve, please consider the 8:30 am Mass on Christmas Day. This Mass should provide excellent choices for seating and parking.      

And now, some thoughts on our celebration of Christmas…

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shown. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing.”  Isaiah 9:1-2 

Each year, we hear these Scripture verses proclaimed as we complete our Advent preparations and celebrate the profound mysteries of God’s presence among us. Each year we emerge from the darkness of sin, reconciled to our God and each other, and celebrate the Light shattering our darkness.

Christ, our Light, has come! Even the world of nature has responded to the Lord’s coming, as the days since the winter solstice last Thursday are now getting longer. The Lord has come to us and remains with us. We live in the Light of Christ.

As we gather again this afternoon or tomorrow for our celebration of the feast of Christmas, I ask that each of us be as generous as possible in remembering your Christmas gift to our parish. Like everyone else, we are facing increases in our fixed expenses. I am very grateful for your faithful support throughout the course of the year, and I thank you in advance for your continued support at Christmas.

Please note that our weekday Masses during Christmas week will be celebrated at 7:00 am only. Also, our Parish Offices will be closed throughout this week. We will reopen on Tuesday, January 2, 2024. It is important that our parish staff members have the opportunity to celebrate the holidays with their families. Next weekend, December 30 & 31, as we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, our schedule of Masses will follow our usual weekend schedule. 

Many of our college students have made their way home for their Christmas break. Congratulations on a successful completion of your Fall semester. We are very happy to have you home with us! 

As we gather with family and friends to retell the story of God’s coming among us in the past, let’s allow our retelling of the cherished and familiar story to open our eyes to recognize God’s coming among us today – especially through each other.

Merry Christmas!

“God bless us everyone!”

– Father Jim Murphy