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True Greatness (Christmas Letter 2016)

Fr. Joel Being Catholic

A king sits on his throne looking bored. People dance to slow music. Suddenly the throne is empty. The commercial cuts to scenes of the king riding a horse, saving a princess from a robotic dragon, jumping on a helicopter and fighting with Spider Man in New York City. It ends with the tagline Greatness Awaits and shows a video-game machine.

We all know that playing video games does not lead to greatness. But we try anyway because don’t know where else to find the greatness we yearn for. Christmas gives us the answer. Greatness, it turns out, is found in the last places you’d think to look: a virgin’s womb, a carpenter’s home, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger because there was no room in the inn.

Greatness is God Himself come in the flesh. And he has come to set us free. We were made to be children of the light, good and true. But darkness has been enslaving people with lies and teaching them to corrupt one another. Now under cover of darkness, the Kingdom of Light has smuggled an infiltrator behind enemy lines. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Prince of Peace. He is the once and future king. He speaks no lies, and evil has no hold on him. He seeks soldiers to join him on a grand adventure. To serve the true King they must be pure of heart, honest, loyal, and brave. They can be wise men or shepherds, maidens or old men, rich or poor. They must be willing to endure any hardship in His service, as they follow their king into battle against pride, greed, selfishness, lust, exploitation of the weak, even face death itself.

This adventure is also the greatest romance. St. Augustine wrote, “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him, the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.” Our King is our Lover. It is for love of you and me that he came to fight and to die for us. He is the desire of your heart, and you are the apple of His eye. Each of us were handmade by God and for God. Each of us is a treasure, a masterpiece. Greatness does not await us. Greatness was placed within us by the creator.

At Christmas we find God’s greatness hidden in the face of a child. At every Mass He hides himself in Bread and Wine. Signs of His love surround us. Enormous galaxies and tiny flowers reflect His love. His fingerprints are all over creation, especially the children. He loves to hide diamonds among coal and the greatest treasures in ordinary places. He has also hidden a greatness within the ordinariness of you.

When you begin to live the Christmas story, you start to see God everywhere. You start to realize that He is with us, Emmanuel, and he is leading us to a destiny more amazing and beautiful than we ever dreamed up. The Kingdom is at hand. Here and now under the disguise of “ordinary life” unfolds the greatest romance, the greatest adventure. There are no ordinary people; there are no ordinary days. Each day is an adventure as we serve our Beloved King. Christmas has come to awaken the greatness within you. Happy Birthday to the true King.

Peace on earth and joy to the world!
~Fr. Joel Sember