(www.deaconden.org) Christmas in this Year of Mercy seems to bring new insight to the relationship of a Deacon with the newborn Child Jesus…the Child who brought forth His own form of New Evangelization to a people desperate for the mercy of God in their time of struggle with faith and hope.
As Heralds of the Gospel, Deacons have a profound connection with the Year of Mercy, a privileged time which promises to yield hearts more receptive to God’s invitation to deeper friendship and intimacy. Being Heralds of the Gospel to a people seeking the Infant Jesus permits us to recognize our vocation in a new, powerful and evangelical way. Indeed, to understand this is to recognize how much we are blest!
As Deacons know, Christmas is a time to recall the Christ Child being born in a lowly manger. But, this Holy Day also calls us to look forward to the second coming of Christ — a second coming that anticipates the final battle in a war that has been going on since Adam. This war is against evil. The devil barrages us with weapons of resentment, grudges, selfishness and want, to name a few. But we know there will be a mighty defeat of the arch-enemy of mankind. We, as part of the ordained New Evangelizers, need to make sure as many warriors as possible are equipped and engaged to be victorious in the final conquest.
St. Paul gives us an example of the battle armor we need in his letter to the Ephesians. But this Year of Mercy will also provide what is needed to save the wounded and the captive held bound by the slavery of sin: namely, forgiveness, mercy and love. God forbid that we should abandon them on the battlefield! These new weapons help those in need to find a safe place and to achieve holiness. What better weapon to use than to bring them a little Child wrapped in swaddling clothes.
In this era of the New Evangelization, let us be Gospel Heralds and equip souls for Christ. Let us help souls start anew by searching out the lost and lonely ones who feel that God has abandoned them. Let them encounter Forgiveness through our prompt care and attentive action. Let us mend the wounds of the addicted and incarcerated souls who think they are fighting this battle alone by showing them a huge dose of God’s Mercy. Let us pray for the unwanted and fragile people who wander aimlessly amidst the slain corpses of this world, that they may come to know that they are Loved. Finally, let us be the Star that announces the Good News of a tiny Child in Bethlehem that was worshipped by Kings and Shepherds alike, and who continues to pour out miracles of unconditional love and healing.
Christmastime, the New Evangelization and the Year of Mercy allow Deacons a radical availability to place the needs of souls into the chalice at the Table of Sacrifice. Ordinary wine is transformed into miraculous Divinity, and souls united with Christ can be transformed as well. This special time will also help us, in the spirit of the New Evangelization, to herald the Gospel to those who are somehow untouched by the Archbishop’s pastoral care and blessing.
So, as we reflect on the wonderful gifts we exchange this Christmas season and as we revel in the warmth and companionship of family and friends, let us not forget to thank God for the weapons He will be providing us in this coming Year of Mercy.
Oh, and let us not forget to thank Our Blessed Mother for her wonderful intercessions as she nurtures the Church. As your mother used to tell you at the Christmas table all the time, “Don’t be selfish – and share!”
It’s Mercy Time! Merry Christmas!