Fr. Charles Irvin
25DEC01 – Christmas 2001 [Children’s Mass]
There is a fable about and old owl, perched in an evergreen tree, asking a nearby dove, “What is the weight of a snowflake?” “Little or nothing,” said the annoyed dove. “Well,” the shrewd old owl replied, “let me fill you in with what happened to me one Christmas day. I was perched on the branch of this evergreen tree when snow began falling quite heavily and for a long time. Having nothing else to do, I began to count the snowflakes falling on my branch. The number was exactly 3,742,356. Then, when the very next snowflake (which you claim weighs just about nothing) fell on the branch, it broke off and fell to the ground.” Then the wise old owl, chuckling all the while, flew off. The dove reflected on this for a time. Finally she said, “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Perhaps it’s just my voice that is needed to bring about peace among my friends or in my family or in the world around me.”
The sad part of Christmas is that there is so little of it in the other days of the year. People spend months preparing for Christmas day. Yet in twenty-four hours it is history. But, while we still have it this day we reflect on the birth of our hero, Christ Jesus, a hero no one could ever invent.
There are people who want to get rid of Christmas and turn it into the “Winter Holiday.” There are people don’t want us to say “Merry Christmas”, telling us that we are to greet everyone instead with “Happy Holidays”. There are people who don’t want us to talk about Jesus in public. But, still, they somehow don’t want totally get rid of it because they want to share in some of its magic, no matter how small their portion might be.
During this past year everyone was reminded, terribly reminded, that there is an Evil Force that’s trying to make us miserable. There is a sort of cosmic Darth Vader that Luke Skywalker fights against. Do you remember Luke Skywalker with his Light Sword? And do you remember that Harry Potter had his own sort of Light Sword, his Magic Wand?
God gives powerful things to us all in order that we might bring His goodness and love into places where people live in darkness, where the live in anger, hatred, jealously, resentment, and bitterness. In their sadness and pain they try to make everyone around them just as miserable and hateful as they are.
I am here now to tell you that your Father in heaven has given you magical powers. Each one of you has something far more powerful that Luke Skywalker’s light sword; something far more powerful than Harry Potter’s magical wand. Each one of you who is now listening to me needs to hear the voice of your heavenly Father. He’s telling you He has made you to be born just like Jesus, His own Son.
For what I am telling you is something wondrously magical. What I am telling you is that God, our Father in heaven, sees His son in each one of you. The story of your own birth is a repeat of the story of the birth of Jesus. Every baby’s birth has within it the story of Jesus’ birth. Every baby can grow up and do great things for God. Every baby has the power of God living within.
Each one of you has a mother and a father who love you with all of the love that Mary and Joseph had in loving Jesus. Each one of you was brought into this world to repeat in your life the story of Jesus’ life. Each one of you can have the life of Jesus within you.
Do you see this little communion wafer? It’s far more powerful that Luke Skywalker’s light sword or Harry Potter’s magical wand. Whenever you come here to this church to tell God you love Him He gives you the life of His Son, Jesus, in this little Holy Communion wafer. When you receive it Jesus’ life becomes a part of your life, and your life becomes a part of Jesus’ life.
Do you know what an echo is? Have you ever heard an echo? You know – it’s when you shout out something in a big canyon or a big room and you heard your word repeated as it spreads out into the space around you.
Well, your life is an echo of Jesus’ life. Your words can be an echo of Jesus’ words. Jesus story can be heard again in your story. Which means that Jesus’ story is told over, and over and over again. It’s told more, far more, than 3,742,356 times. And if it’s told often enough it will break the branch of evil that tries to cover us over. Every smile you give, every hug you share, every time you forgive someone who has hurt you, when added up, can have enough weight to break the back of evil and bring it crashing down.
And there’s something else I need to tell you, too. Do you remember in the story of Jesus’ birth that there was a wicked king, a king named Herod? Do you remember that he sent his soldiers out to try and get rid of Jesus? And do you remember that when Jesus grew up there were other wicked, mean and evil people who tried to kill him by nailing him to a cross and watching him die?
Well, the story has a good ending, doesn’t it! God’s magic is greater than the power of darkness and evil. God lit up a star to break through the darkness… and wise men and wise women are still following that star to find God’s love here on earth within our lives. Christmas and Easter tell us that God’s power is infinitely greater than the Devil’s power.
So, while it’s nice to give gifts to others at Christmas, and while it’s nice to receive gifts from others who love us, remember – always remember – that you yourself can be a wondrous gift to others in the way that you love them, in the way that you forgive them, in the way that you care for them even when they’re mean and nasty to you. No one can do everything – but each one of us can do something. Each one of us can be the 3,742,357th snowflake.
There’s a legend telling us that they last words God our Father said to His Son just before Mary gave birth to Him were, “Be sure to give everyone my love and tell them I love them.”
So, my dear children, be God’s wondrous gift of love to those around you. Let the story of your life be an echo of the story of Jesus’ life. And be sure to tell everyone how much God loves them. If enough of us do that, and if we make the story of Christmas a part of the story of every day of our lives, we will snap the branch of evil in our world, and God’s light will shine down upon us all.
Merry Christmas, my dearest children, And when I am gone, remember that I love you and that together, no matter where we’re living, can with God’s magic, change our world.