Life Stinks. Merry Christmas!
By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 27, 2021
Merry Christmas to you and your families! It is a glorious and beautiful feast—with the tenderness and simplicity of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph—attracting us to worship the newborn King. Come, let us adore Him. On Christmas, we remember the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity—the Word made Flesh, Jesus—entering the world. He came on a mission to save us from our sins and open the doors to heaven.
But let’s face it. Most of us don’t think that’s enough.
Some of you might remember a hilarious movie from the 1970s. A cranky old guy on TV, fed up with the world, complains that the life situation is “bad, really bad” and he wasn’t “going to take it anymore!” So he calls on everyone to go to their windows and scream, “I’m mad as [Hades], and I’m not going to take it anymore!” For the uninitiated, the name of the movie was Network.
A lot of us feel the same way today. We’re tired of the lies and baloney. Honestly, many of us are tired of life. Oh, for the good old days: The days of the Cold War, the Tet Offensive, the Sands of Iwo Jima, Flanders Field, or Pickett’s Charge. Would that I had been born into, say, an Old South plantation with an easy life. No, wait, as long as I wasn’t one of the field slaves and never exposed to cholera, polio, or sepsis. What was dental care like in the 19th Century? Didn’t George Washington have wooden false teeth?
From our perspective, the mission of Jesus is too narrow. We always have new and improved plans for our Jesus. Remember when Jesus was about to ascend into heaven? The Apostles asked, “Are you going to restore the kingdom of Israel?” (cf. Acts 1:16) Jesus may have just as well said, “Well, if it’s according to my Father’s will and you’re up to it, that’s your job.” We all have purposes in life that only we can accomplish.
Jesus came into the world on a mission. He came not only to save us from our sins but also to reveal to us our dignity. God also sends every one of us on an assignment that is unique to us as we navigate the nooks and crannies of our lives. Do you know your mission, and do you know why you were born? Will you have enough savings for your retirement? Tough questions. Jesus calls you to accomplish something in the world that only you can do.
I know what many of you are thinking. You know how to hurt a guy. I messed up my life, and my family is a mess. I’m a mess. I can’t possibly pick up all the broken pieces of my life. Are you trying to discourage me, too, and bring me down into your pity party?
We all have regrets, more or less. Maybe we’ve fallen to the same depths but haven’t realized it yet. But everyone who takes responsibility for his actions responds to the saving mission of Jesus: “Great start! You are on the verge of an honest and humble confession of sin. You ruined the gifts God gave you, and Jesus will help you start anew. He came into the world to save you from your sins. He also created you for a purpose. Now, with His grace, discover—or rediscover or renew—that purpose in life. You may need a helping hand. But you’ll have to give up some of those stubborn life patterns that led you astray.”
Our encounter with Jesus in the Sacraments is day by day, week by week, year by year. We encounter Jesus in the good works and testimony of fellow Christians. In Jesus, we discover why we were born, and we recalibrate and fine-tune that purpose every day. In Jesus, we never lose a reason for our existence, even if it becomes a moving target because of our sins.
We celebrate Christmas this year. With or without us, the world will celebrate it again next year. You and I are not important enough to destroy His beauty, goodness, and truth. But we have an inestimable worth in the eyes of God. Christmas is a time of new life and renewal—and second chances. We can’t change the past. We can only change the present, but only with the grace of the Newborn King.
Is it too late? It is never too late, while we breathe, to love, and accept God’s love, and to teach others to love. But without Jesus, life stinks.
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