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For the most of us Christmas is a time of happiness. We have learned to love virtually everything about
it – the music, the lights, the giving and receiving of gifts, the fellowship of friends and family. Year after year,
we anticipate this season with great excitement and remember it with fondness, long after it is gone.
But in the midst of all this happiness we need to remember that for some people Christmas is the
loneliest time of the year. For some Christmas festivities remind them of broken relationships, and the
togetherness of others serves to accentuate their own sense of aloneness.
Loneliness is without question one of life’s most painful experiences. And in some form at some time,
every one of us has to deal with it. Young people often feel the loneliness of being misunderstood. Many other
people feel the loneliness of need. Many in broken homes feel the loneliness of rejection. Those who have lost
a loved one feel that ultimate loneliness that comes from death.
So the Christmas season for many people underlines these feelings of loneliness. But strangely enough
it also has a special message for the lonely. When the angel spoke to Joseph about Mary’s pregnancy, he gave
the Baby two names. The first, of course, was Jesus, the name with which we are most familiar. But the other
was Emmanuel, a Hebrew name which means, “God is with us”. In other words Mary’s Baby Boy was God’s
way of saying to our world, you are never alone.
Every one of us needs to hear that Christmas message! God is not only telling the world of His presence
in the vast universe. He is telling you and me of His presence in our lives. God is with each one of us,
individually and personally. Christ not only came into the world; He came to people, one at a time, and shared
with them the glad news “God is with us”. This does not mean that we will never be lonely, but it does mean
that we will never be alone. God is always there.
This is reality. This is truth. But we cannot lead shabby selfish lives, and then hope to stroll casually into
His presence, as if He did not know or did not care. He is with us always, but if we would know the joy of His
company, we must approach it with moral seriousness.
That kind of relationship with Jesus isn’t easy to live with, but it’s the only kind that will meet our real
needs. We can find casual friendship almost any night in any bar in any town. We can enjoy it for an hour or
for an evening; and we will walk away from it just as lonely as when we arrived.
What we need is someone who really cares and that’s what we have in God – not a casual friend but a
constant companion. This is the true wonderful message of this Christmas season. So please prepare yourself
to receive this reality into your personal lives. It will be the best gift you will receive this Christmas 2014!!
Father Robert F. Grippo