A Shepherd's Message - Dec. 26, 2017

December 26, 2017

“Promise fills the sky with light, Stars and angels dance in flight;
Joy of heaven shall now unbind Chains of evil from mankind.
Love and joy their power shall break, And for a new born prince’s sake;
Never since the world began Such a light such dark did span.”

The verse above from a modern Christmas Cantata by Ralph Vaughan Williams, a British composer, adds a thought-provoking profile to the meaning of joy associated with Christmas. The joy of Christ’s coming itself will unbind and break chains of evil. Angels and stars dance (an imaginative phrase!) because the promise that joy brings is infectious. Such a light spans all the cosmos and all the centuries from the beginning of the world. The very joy of Jesus Christ, Word Made Flesh, is singularly momentous.

Breaking the power of evil is a kind of work, we say. But this little stanza emphasizes that the very joy shining on the face of the Infant Prince of Peace and the joy of all who see and gaze on Him is the most powerful force for undoing evil and its effects among us. 

Jesus shows us the face of God, God’s face turned towards us, wrote Pope Benedict XVI a few years ago. The Lord Jesus points out the way we should go. That way is the joy of the Gospel and it never stops beckoning and accompanying us. 

This past year has not been easy for us in Southeast Texas. Hurricane Harvey was a difficult experience and its aftereffects continue to try the patience of especially those impacted by displacement, loss of home and work, and loss of parish buildings, at least temporarily.

What I remember most, however, from the late days of August was resiliency by all, compassion and help by all, and yes, joy! These were pre-Christmas miracles and they remain as a living memory that keeps the promise of our well being alive and fruitful.

May the joy of Christ and His mother fill the skies over Houston continuously. May you and all your loved ones, may every person in this region, friend or stranger to us, be filled with Christmas joy.

God’s blessings! Merry Christmas!