How Welcome Is Jesus In My Presence?

12-19-2021From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

What do you want for Christmas? We readily ask that of children who respond with enthusiasm. The older we get the less we are looking for gifts and the more we see the love that is behind them. For a gift to be a perfect gift it just has to come from the heart.

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In the Gospel for today’s Mass (Luke 1:39-45) we have the account of the Visitation where the Blessed Virgin Mary, now carrying Jesus in her womb, goes to visit her relative Elizabeth who is joyfully pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth was filled with joy at Mary’s visit and that joy is known by John the Baptist in her womb as he leapt with joy: “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke1:42-44)

The aura, wonder, and joy of Christmas is founded on the gift of God Himself to us in Jesus. Jesus was nurtured and cherished in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and surely protected and loved by St. Joseph. But the actual entrance into our world, an entrance longed for and hungered for since the beginning of the human race, was quite simple and even humble. Jesus was born in a stable. There was no room for His birth in the inn. Yet that slight was eclipsed by the wonder of Mary and Joseph as they held Him, as well as the wonder and joy of the shepherds who took the invitation of the angels and beheld the infant Jesus in the stable. The Magi journeyed a distance following a star and bowed down in wonder, joy, and homage as they offered their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Now, 2,000 years later, we encounter the same Jesus. He is not in a stable, He is not on the cross, He is present in the Sacrament of Holy Communion which is our spiritual food. We also encounter His presence when we pray quietly and privately before Him in the tabernacle in any Catholic Church we enter. As much as we would like to have and know the joy of Elizabeth at the Visitation, Jesus is always happy we are in His presence. He is the gift we celebrate personally and communally as the Church family at Christmas. I take the word GIFT and use it as an acronym to remind us that God Is Forever There! There is no doubt about His loving and welcoming presence. The question to ponder is, “How welcome is Jesus in my presence?” We are in the very core of His heart as He has come into our world to give us fullness of life, life that is full only with Him.

As Jesus is THE gift to us and all people, so we are a gift to Him. What a humbling, amazing, and encouraging thought. There is an old saying we see on pins people wear at Christmas that says: Jesus is the reason for the season. May we not miss that point. The more we are filled with humble, joyful, gratitude for His presence in our lives, the more powerful, and life giving He is to us. May our Christmas gifts, presents, cards, and gatherings be enhanced by His firmly entrenched presence in our minds and hearts.


I conclude the Advent blessing at the end of Mass.

May the almighty and merciful God,
by whose grace you have placed your faith
in the First Coming of his Only Begotten Son
and yearn for his coming again,
sanctify you by the radiance of Christ's Advent
and enrich you with his blessing.
R. Amen.

As you run the race of this present life,
may he make you firm in faith,
joyful in hope and active in charity.
R. Amen.

So that, rejoicing now with devotion
at the Redeemer's coming in the flesh,
you may be endowed with the rich reward of eternal life
when he comes again in majesty.
R. Amen.

And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, † and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever.
R. Amen.