A New Year's Message from Father Cronin

A New Year’s Message

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Every year we hear Saint Luke, the Evangelist tell us, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”  What an unprecedented year we have been living!  And who would have ever thought that we too would find ourselves in the same shoes as the Holy Family?  Never before has this Gospel come more to life than this year.

Think about that first Christmas.  We have glamorized it with songs, candles, and the smell of holiday foods, but that first Christmas was anything but a “Merry Little Christmas!”  Joseph and the pregnant Mary were exhausted from their travels and they were shut out from everywhere they went.  The stable that the Christ Child was born in was a simple structure most likely built into the side of a cave.  The odors were not of sugar cookies and spiced wine, but of hay and the stench of cattle.  Let us not forget about the fear and anxiety that traveled with them.  At any point along the journey, there was the worry of bandits hiding ready to jump out and rob the travelers.  Think about what was going through Joseph’s mind; how would he provide for his young family?  And then there was Mary, nine months pregnant and ready to give birth to her son with a husband who worked better with wood than as a midwife!  Yes, this was far from a “Merry Little Christmas!”

Two thousand years later we find ourselves in a similar situation as the Holy Family.  For many of us, we have the same anxieties and fears, but now it is not bandits and pregnancy that weigh down on us, but a virus ready to rob us at any point.  And let us not forget our journey since March 15th when things began to shut down.  Like the road from Nazareth to Bethlehem, it has been long, lonely, dusty, and dark.  And here we find ourselves with the same thoughts and questions.  Will there be room in the inn of Holy Trinity as we move beyond Christmas into the New Year?  When will we be able to celebrate with loved ones without fear of sickness or quarantine or worse?  How long will our most meaningful connections remain virtual rather than in-person?  But, as the Angel told the shepherds in the Gospel of Saint Luke, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.”  We must not fear.  Mary and Joseph trusted in the goodness of God and so must we.  The shepherds trusted in the message of peace and good will the Angel brought, and so must we.
“Fear not” is the message of Christmas -- the message of Christ for all of the new year ahead.

Had Christmas come?  Despite everything we are going through, Christmas has come.  Emmanuel!   We still wait for vaccines to be distributed and COVID to be vanquished, but God is with us as we carry His light into 2021.  It looks different, but Holy Trinity will meet the birth of the savior electronically, in cars, in the parking lot, in your homes, on your phones, and in the church building.  And we celebrate our Father’s great gift to a sinful world -- His Son, Jesus the Christ.  Christ who is our remedy for sin, our supreme vaccine!  What does the birth of this baby boy mean?  He means hope where there is fear; joy where there is sadness; peace where there is anxiety; eternal life beyond all death.  What the birth of this baby boy means is echoed in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.”  In all of this, Jesus is our light, and our life, and our love.

Even though this year will be different, my prayer for all of us is that we will allow the mystery of this great event to penetrate our being a little more deeply.  That we will enter into the reality that God took flesh, brought forth from woman in humble means to save us.  Fear not!  Into our weakness is born God’s strength.  Fear not, my sisters and brothers, for God is with us now and until the end of the age.

On behalf of our deacons and parish staff, I pray you received Jesus’ love this Christmas, and I bid you all a New Year filled with grace and peace.

In Faith, Hope, and Love,