Vincentian AdventPart I: A Christmas Greeting from Fr. Greg Gay

Happy are those who dream dreams 
and are ready to pay the price 
to make them come true.
 -Cardinal Suenens

My Christmas message to all the Vincentian Family is based on the gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Advent in which we heard how Joseph’s dream for living a normal life together with his wife-to-be, Mary, was interrupted and he was invited to participate in an even bigger dream, the dream of God becoming man.

The dream of Christmas is the dream of a little child, born into the world, born as a poor person, who begins a process of transforming the world in and through, and above all, the gift of love. That dream gets spelled out, not only in the course of Jesus’ life, as recorded for us in the gospels, but at the same time it continues to be concretized throughout the world in the lives and commitments of many men and women who dream that another world is possible.

In this day and age we need to dream bigger dreams, dreams that include the well-being of the entire world, not only just our little piece of it. If it is true that we live in a global village, it is even truer that we have the responsibility of working toward a greater solidarity, where there is a recognition of the equality of all men and women in that village. That is the true message of Christmas and, if and when it becomes so, the consequence will be true peace to all men and women on earth. My brothers and sisters of the Vincentian Family, we are all invited to go beyond our own personal dreams and participate fully in the dream of Christmas, which is the dream of a better world for all God’s children. The challenge before each and everyone of us is to continue to make the dream come true as many others who have gone before us have done with the gift of their lives and the gift of their love, especially for those privileged ones of Jesus, the poor.

Part of my own dream for [the new year] is the hope that something new continue to be born: a Vincentian Family, dedicated, as Family, to pray with the Lord Jesus, whom we have come to know and love in a deeper way in the person of the poor, the poor to whom we reach out in a personal way with love and compassion, a compassion that gets translated into solidarity.

Part II: by Fr. Robert Maloney, C.M.

This Advent I ask you to lift up your eyes toward the ends of the earth. Embrace the universalism that Matthew subtly introduces into Jesus’ genealogy by inserting two Canaanites, a Moabite, and a Hittite into the line of Jesus ancestors. Matthew continues this theme with the story of the Magi, Gentiles who come from the East to adore the newborn Lord. And he concludes his gospel with the rousing universal missionary mandate: “Full authority has been given to me both in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you and know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!” (Mt 28:18-20). Interestingly, this farewell command combines both universalism (“all nations”) and providence (“I am with you”).

In recent years our Vincentian Family has grown rapidly, spreading to many countries on all continents. In the 21st century, our international meetings will show a growing number of Asians, Pacific Islanders, Africans, and Latin Americans, who will stand alongside Europeans and North Americans as the members of a truly global family. Those whose skin is black, brown, yellow, red and white will work next to one another in projects serving the poor. They will sit beside each other doing research into the causes of poverty. They will serve with one another in lay missions sponsored by MISEVI. They will pray with each other and sing with each other in Eucharistic celebrations. I hope that the multiracial character of our Vincentian Family in the 21st century will be a clear witness to the unity of the human race and that it will be a continual font of richness for us all, rather than a source of prejudice.

Matthew’s seemingly boring genealogy offers a very relevant challenge today: do we remain insulated, as Matthew feared was the case among many of his readers? Are we so caught up in our own work or in our own province that we rarely raise our eyes to the larger world of the poor on other continents and to our brothers and sisters who are serving them there? Do we sense ourselves as members of a worldwide Family and live in active solidarity with those who are even poorer than we are, sharing with them our affective and effective love, some portion of our material goods, and our prayer?

Part III: from Joyce Ann Zimmerman, C.PP.S. et al. Living Liturgy, The Liturgical Press, 2003.

Why do we wish each other “Merry Christmas”? Surely, not because Jesus was born into a perfect world and not because we have a perfect world or perfect families today. “Merry Christmas”? Perhaps not for all. But because of Jesus, all of us can celebrate a Christmas that is joyful and blessed. The Savior of the world was born during the night of the year when darkness is the longest. Jesus comes for the people in dark places. The real, lasting, and deep joy is that the Light shines there. That is why we can say to each other “Merry Christmas”!

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