By Fr. Jim Fiori
These last weeks have been a trip down memory lane. I’ve reminisced about Christmas past, growing up in small town Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I have fond memories of decorating the tree. It was a family affair. Most of the decorations were old but each carried a story. The angel that was perched on the tree top came from my grandparents. I was enthralled by the star that had glass prongs that emitted the light like our modern fiber optics. It was an exciting time for us children. What was most exiting was the whole atmosphere of family, of love and joy.
We didn’t have Santa Claus in the shopping centre; there was no shopping centre nor did we make lists of things we wanted. We anxiously waited for the surprise. The focus however was not on the gifts. The focus was on church. It was a marvelous experience staying up so late to go to midnight mass. This was certainly no ordinary event. As altar servers, we were all practiced in what to do in a spectacular liturgy that somehow announced the Good News that Jesus was in our midst.
Years later I was in an isolated First Nations community. For the most part it was dreary. Most people were poor and depressed. Life was hard and there wasn’t a whole lot to celebrate. Then come December and there was a complete transformation. Everyone put up Christmas lights. It was an amazing transformation. I think there were more lights than all of Winnipeg. They certainly couldn’t afford this extravaganza. The atmosphere in town became one of hope and joy.
I have witnessed a transformation in Canadian Martyrs Church. This week they turned on the lights. It changes everything. The Scriptures often refer to light as the radiance of God’s presence. This is how we know of God’s presence in our midst, Emmanuel.
We gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus because he is significant in our lives. From him we have received the gift of salvation. His passion, death and resurrection are his gift of our salvation. It is for this reason that we celebrate his birth.
It is my wish that this Christmas will be truly an experience of the Light of Christ radiating upon you. In turn, may you too be light. Together we have the potential of transforming our Church, our community and our families.
I wish you a very Blessed Christ filled Christmas. May you be enlighted by his Light. We pray too that the New Year will be one of health, happiness and holiness.