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SUNDAY HOMILY: The Happy Priest - Christmas Can Be Every Day

By Fr. James Farfaglia
December 31st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Break the cycle of selfishness and love your neighbor.  Your neighbor is your spouse.  Your neighbor is your child.  Your neighbor is your co-worker, your parishioner, your pastor and the family living next door to you. 

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - When Mother Theresa came to this country for the first time, she said:

"I suppose that some of you are feeling that you would have to buy a plane ticket and travel to India if you were to give effective help to the poor.  There is no need.  The poor are right here in your own country.  In the third world, there is often a famine of the stomach due to the lack of food, but the people are rich in love.  They share what little they have with one another.  In developed nations like yours, there is an abundance of food.  But there is often a famine of the heart due to a lack of love.  The victims of this famine of love are the new poor.  And who are these poor people?  They are the people sitting next to you."

Why is there a famine of love in developed countries?  The answer is simple and clear: we have become so selfish. 

Today, Americans tend to be so isolated and self-centered.  Many talk feverishly on cell phones, but never stop to say hello to the person next to them.

Many are consumed with finding friends on Facebook, but they never say a word to the person living next door to them

Many are living in a narcissistic fantasy world, never having time for the children that they brought into this world.

Many married people recklessly do all that they can to limit the number of children that God may be calling them to bring into this world, selfishly closing themselves off to the gift of life. 

Jesus gave us the solution to selfishness:  "Love one another as I have loved you".

Here is what Mother Theresa had to say: "Let us bring peace into the world by love and compassion, by respecting life, the most beautiful gift of God.  Let us love each person - the unborn, the young, the old, the sick and the poor - with the same love with which God loves each one of us, a tender and personal love". 

Christmas is the celebration of God's unconditional love for you and for me.  "God so loved the world, that he gave us his only Son; not to condemn the world, but to save it" (John 3: 16).   

God is love and we are all called to love. Jesus teaches us that the meaning of life is to love just as he did.  "Love one another as I have loved you" (John 15: 12).  How does Jesus love us?  He loves us by the total giving of himself to us.  "A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends" (John 15: 13). 

As Pope John Paul II wrote in his first encyclical letter: "Man cannot live without love.  He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it" (Redemptor Hominis, 10.1). 

God is love.  Deus est Caritas.  Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his first encyclical letter to the subject of love.  Deus est Caritas.  Have we forgotten what it means to truly love?  Have we forgotten that God loves us unconditionally?

This is why so many people are taking medications for anxiety and depression.  We are in a famine!  We are living within the famine of love!

How can we escape from the famine?

Start your day, every day, with contemplative prayer, the prayer of the heart.  Encounter the God of unconditional love.

Go to Mass as often as possible.  Allow the God of unconditional love to consume your entire being.

Break the cycle of selfishness and love your neighbor.  Your neighbor is your spouse.  Your neighbor is your child.  Your neighbor is your co-worker, your parishioner, your pastor and the family living next door to you. 

If true Christian love is lacking at home, begin to change that situation. 

From your home, the spirit of Christmas will spread to wherever you go. 

If we can learn to live the Gospel, Christmas will not be just an annual celebration, it will be a daily way of life.

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Father James Farfaglia is a contributing writer for Catholic Online and author of Get Serious! - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics.  You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org and listen to the audio podcast of this Sunday homily.

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