Merry Christmas to all! Thank you for coming to Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Parish to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Welcome especially to all who are visiting us, and those who are new to our parish. I am glad you are able to pray with us today. May the Christmas season fill you with the joy and peace that God longs for us to have each day. May the songs we sing, and the prayers we pray deepen our relationship with Jesus who wants to be close to our hearts.
Heralds of Good News!
There is a cute story about a music teacherdirecting a group of children who were singing the carol: While the Shepherds Watched Their Flock at Night” to a packed house at the school’s annual Christmas concert. To her horror, she realized one of the young children was proudly singing as loud as he could: “While the Shepherds washed their socks at night.”
Kids do say, or in this case sing, the darndest things don’t they? We wonder at times how do those little minds work?
Well those shepherds weren’t washing their socks. But they were keeping the night watch in order to protect their sheep from marauders and wolves. Now, imagine a flock of angels singing to you in the middle of the night. I suppose any one of us might find it a little unsettling, too.
The birth of our Savior drew little attention the night it took place outside the city of Bethlehem. Had the shepherds nearby not been jolted by God’s messengers and a chorus of angels, Jesus’ birth might have gone totally unnoticed.
Yet, here we are gathered over two thousand years later to praise a humble birth that turned out to dramatically transform the world. We gather to celebrate the great Incarnation, that would forever change the world.
More than any other time of year, there exists among most people a sense of joy, contentment and happiness at Christmas. Certainly the carols, the lights, the warm hearts and family gatherings reinforce this sense of love and harmony among us.
The Christmas challenge is to harness this sense of joy and love and let it permeate our hearts and souls throughout the entire year.
May we be heralds of Good News of our salvation in Jesus Christ to a world that is still dwelling too much in darkness. Let us bring the gift which is Jesus to all we meet.
The Joy of Giving
I have been absolutely amazed by all of the gifts that our parish collected before Christmas to help assist families who are in dire need. One organization that has blessed our parish is called, “Santa’s Volunteers.” They started in 1956 as Christmas neared. It’s founder Al Fellinger, was committed to helping the poor in Chicago. He started out by filling several bags to help an elderly woman who was so poor she could not buy any food. She actually used her refrigerator to just store dishes.
Today Santa’s Volunteers now raise over $125,000 a year and brings a good Christmas dinner to thousands of Chicagoans. Each family gets two bags of groceries that include two hams or turkeys plus items that make up a traditional dinner and more. Each family receives a Jewel gift card for additional food; the amount on the card varies depending on budgets. This year each family got $50. Ultimately they provide for about 3500 people in 850 of Chicago poorest families, which is all about their budget can support. Our Parish Food Pantry has been blessed to receive the care-packages donated by the Santa’s Volunteers.
I am also grateful for all who helped to make our Christmas Giving Tree a huge success. The huge pile of beautifully wrapped presents was an impressive sight. Our parish elves work really hard. They actually made two deliveries to our Sharing Parish, Assumption BVM, that is located at 26th Street and California Ave. I am truly proud of your generosity.
Out of Town
Just to let you know, I will be out of town for a few days this week visiting good friends of mine in Cleveland, South Carolina, which is about an hour north of Greenville, South Carolina. It will be nice to get away from the Chicago’s cold and the snow. Fr. Larry McBrady will be keeping an eye on the parish while I am gone. You will be in good hands. Enjoy these days.