Longing for Christmas…Right Now!

COME,AND YOU WILL SEE  By Bishop Edward M. Rice
Dec. 09, 2022

“For we need a little Christmas right this very moment…We need a little Christmas now.” This particular Christmas song was first performed in 1966 in the Broadway musical Mame. And by now you might be thinking, “What is wrong with Bishop Rice? Why isn’t he quoting a religious Christmas song, like “Little Drummer Boy,” or “O Come, All Ye Faithful?” Or how about the classic “Silent Night?” Those are beautiful songs and it is true that they are religious, except for the first one I quoted. But with all the things that have been recently going on in the world, and within the diocese, the thought popped into my mind – maybe we should not wait until December 25th. Maybe all of us “need a little Christmas right now.”

The other day, I told one of my siblings that it seems like every time I pick up the phone, someone has passed away. Some of them were beautiful deaths of family friends in their 90s, or a family death after a long illness. But also there was the tragic accident in Cape Girardeau where two young ladies passed away who were very active in the Newman Center at Southeast Missouri State University. A third fatality from the crash, the twin of a SEMO student also passed away, while the other three passengers in the car escaped with little injuries.

Over the past weeks, I’ve been craving for the joy and the peace and the hope that comes from the proclamation of the birth of Jesus. I realize that everyone is busy this time of the year and my busyness is nothing exceptional but still: I know I need a little Christmas right now. I need to cling to the promise proclaimed in the first chapter of Matthew, “She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.” I need a little Christmas now. There is a desire in my heart to hear the Angel say to me, “Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy.” I need a little Christmas now. I need to hear the heavenly host of angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest. And on earth, peace to people of goodwill.”
“Do not be afraid.”
“He is the one who will save his people from their sins.”
“Peace to people of goodwill.”

The message of Christmas is a message for which the entire world yearns. All of us need a little Christmas
right now.

I must confess that I decorated my office right after Thanksgiving. I needed Christmas as soon as possible and I didn’t want to wait until December 25. And now, as we enter into the Christmas Season and the eight days that follow—the Octave of Christmas—the Church unfolds for us the beautiful, thoughtful feasts of St. Stephen Proto-Martyr, St. John the Apostle, the Holy Innocents, St. Thomas Becket and the Holy Family, culminating on the Eighth day with the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, Jan. 1st. On Jan. 8, we celebrate the Feast of Epiphany and on the following day, Jan. 9, with the Baptism of the Lord, we then enter once again into the Ordinary Time of the year, until Ash Wednesday on Feb. 22.

Let us take full advantage of this Christmas Season. As always, I encourage you if not on Christmas day, then at least sometime during the Christmas Season, to make your own personal pilgrimage to the manger scene in your parish church and visit the Christ Child, offering to Him the gift of your heart. Take a piece of straw in the manger and place it in your wallet or purse and let it be a reminder throughout the year that we are always in need of a little Christmas—the joy, the hope, the promise—that is given to us in the Christ Child. Be assured of my prayers for all of you. As your Bishop, it is my privilege to pray for you daily, remembering you and your families at the altar of God. As you receive the Eucharist, may you also receive Christ into your hearts and be particularly mindful of him being with you throughout 2023! Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!