Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and it will undoubtedly be very different. The year 2020 has brought many changes to all of our lives. And as the holiday season moves forward, it will continue to make changes to our usual traditions. The need to stay separate from family and friends will continue as we take these precautions to help keep all members of our communities safe. This has by no means been easy and the weight of these heavy decisions to stay apart during the holidays will feel even harder. However, we know that we are doing this for the safety of our loved ones and those we have never met but know someone else loves dearly.

With these thoughts running through my mind, I came across this excerpt from “A Maryknoll Liturgical Year: Reflections on the Reading for Year A” that speaks to this point and breathes hope and light into the now, as we look forward to the future.

“Our heavenly joy is that which we feel after having undergone the trials of the cross – with Christ. Jesus is the Savior and bearer of peace. The peace that Jesus brought is not just the removal of conflict; the peace that Jesus brings is that which helps us to face and solve the conflict. It is the opportunity to encounter the other and look for the common good. Jesus is the liberator of all human conditions[.]

This is the fundamental message of Christmas that brings hope and joy: we are not alone in our loneliness and our search for unity, integration, solidarity, and reconciliation of all and with all. God-with-us, Emmanuel, is here: “to you is born this day in the city of David a savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

~ Cecilia Espinoza, former Maryknoll Lay Missioner, “Christmas Mass at Midnight” from A Maryknoll Liturgical Year: Reflections on the Readings for Year A

While this season will be different, our reasons for celebrating will not be. With hope and joy, let us celebrate the message of Christmas. Let us find creative ways to share this joyous and hopeful message with those we are with and those with whom we cannot be.

As Maryknoll Priest Associate Fr. Charlie Dittmeier states, “Jesus came to bring light and life to people, to all those who experience darkness in any form. Tonight we welcome and celebrate and thank God for this wonderful gift, this wonderful person who comes to us, who is God with us. Jesus asks us to do the same, to bring light and life to others.”