Back in 1960 the Olympic Games were celebrated in Rome. The Pope at that time, John XXIII, wanted to commemorate the occasion, so he directed the Vatican to issue a commemorative coin. On one side of the coin was the image of a tree stump. From that stump sprouted a series of leafy new sprigs.
The design for the coin was inspired by the realization that many of the athletes who were competing in the Olympic Games that year were children of a generation that had suffered greatly. The Pope knew that, among those athletes, there could be sons or daughters whose parents were gassed at the concentration camps. There could be direct descendants from families who suffered from the atomic bomb at Hiroshima or children of parents who died serving their country at Iwo Jima or on D-Day.
Pope John saw these young athletes from all over the world as a sign of hope – fresh life and a new beginning that now was sprouting up in an age that had witnessed so much horror and had such endured great sorrow.
Christmas reminds us that we must be people of hope. No matter how we may have been broken in the past, no matter what failure or tragedies we have endured, we must believe that God is doing something new – and when God does anything He does it beautifully. And He does it all through the child who was born in a manger to a virgin in Bethlehem.
Seek Him sincerely this Christmas. Listen in the silent night and you will know the voice of Jesus. He is our hope, our only hope, and our never-ending source of hope. Know Him and something new and beautiful will spring up.
I look forward to greeting our Lord in the Eucharist as we celebrate Christmas together. It will be a marathon weekend with our celebration of Christmas on Thursday and Friday – and then with the celebration of the Solemnity of the Holy Family on Saturday evening and Sunday. It will be grand and it will be glorious.
Thank you, Nativity of Mary. I am very glad to spend another Christmas with you.