‘Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!’

My friends, in this Christmas season, it’s all about joy. There is a reading from St. Paul to the Thessalonians and it captures what God our Father is asking of us. “Brothers and Sisters,” he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances, give thanks. And do not quench the Spirit.”

We rejoice in this time as we recall God’s special gifts to us: life, love, the gift of Himself in the Eucharist, the gift of sharing in His priesthood, and the gracious gift He gave to us from the cross right before He died – the gift of His mother as our mother. Mary gives us joy and hope, which brings us real peace.

This Christmas season is a special one for me. Fifty-two years ago, on Dec. 17, I was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ, called and sent to serve God’s people and to show the joy and hope, which brings Christ’s peace.

My brothers and sisters of the beloved Diocese of Allentown, I thank the Lord each day that He has brought you into my life. So many memories of you and my brother priests and our dear bishops have shown me what a blessed community of faith we have in the Diocese of Allentown.

At this special time of the year, I give thanks to almighty God for the gift of His Mother, who has been a mother to me – “My Mother, My Confidence” for 52 years of my priesthood.

On Sept. 15, my birthday, I was packing to leave for Rome to accompany the college seminarians on their semester abroad with their residence at the Pontifical Irish College. It was then my life was suddenly changed, not ended. For more than two weeks, I would lie in a hospital bed, unconscious and unaware of anything or anyone around me.

I realize now that Mary kept me close with the warmth of a Mother’s Love. Our Blessed Mother Mary’s life is proof that evil does not have the final word – that our destiny is not death but life.

I am truly convinced that our Blessed Mother felt that there was still more for me to do as a priest, and it is to bring joy and hope and peace to God’s people, now living in a troubled and darkened world.

And so, today, I thank the good Lord and our Mother Mary for giving me a second chance, to give it a go, to light up lives with joy and hope and peace.

My brothers and sisters, I thank you, and I pray for you today that you take to heart the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances, give thanks. Do not quench the Spirit.”

May you light up lives with joy and hope in your heart, and you will bring peace. Yes, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King.”

My friends, it’s all about joy.

By Monsignor Aloysius Callaghan, rector and vice president emeritus, St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity of the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn.


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