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Gerardus T. Hauwert @Hauwertsr
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.@POTUS calls for America to be GREAT; @FLOTUS promotes #BeBest - a Catholic Priest shared the following 2018 CHRISTMAS MESSAGE:


We live in a world that often challenges us to strive to do better, to be the best, to be exceptional.
What does it mean to be exceptional? Does it mean to do what is easy, what is convenient? Or does it mean to be outstanding, extraordinary, remarkable, to be excellent, to be phenomenal, to be out of the ordinary? To be set apart from the rest? Did you know that "Christ" is the
Greek word for "Messiah"? These words translate into English as "Anointed One"; and. that this idea of being anointed is directly tied in to the concept of being set apart from the rest? What an EXCEPTIONAL concept!

To be the true followers of Christ we need to (in our
hearts and actions) be set apart from the rest of the ways of the world. We need to have as our goal the desire to be exceptional in our Faith; first for ourselves, then for our family. We need to encourage families to be exceptional - NOT in a worldly way but in a faithful way.
- NOT in the sense of doing my own thing, but in the sense of living out the teachings of Christ in an exceptional way.

What does this involve? - well, a certain level of commitment.

As anyone who is involved in sports or activities of a complex nature can tell you, it takes
more than just involvement in the game or event itself. There are aspects of practice, training, conditioning and sacrifice for anyone who wants to be dedicated, anyone who is serious. A true Christian life is no different.

WELCOME CHRIST! Welcome Him in a profound way.
Mary and Joseph found no room in the Inn that first Christmas so many years ago, but what we must realize is that THERE IS STILL NO ROOM FOR HIM in the hearts and minds of the modern world and sometimes even our own. The Inn is no longer just a temporary dwelling place
for travelers. The Inn today is our own home, our own life, our own schedule, our own Family.

Do I fit or squeeze Jesus into my busy schedule, do I adjust my schedule to accommodate Him? Do I plan my schedule around Him? DO I SERVE HIM OR DO I EXPECT HIM TO SERVE ME?
We have to be on guard for a 'false' sense of 'having time'. Do I only have room for Christ when it is convenient? Or when I have nothing else to do? Do I REALLY pray daily, do I make a sincere effort to attend weekly Mass. Why should I? To answer this question we can think
about: "What I want" vs. "What God wants". Is there a difference? If so, why? Also we can ask ourselves:

Why does Jesus:

1) SAY: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father..". Then He says:
".. I (will) declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'
- Jesus (Mt 7:22-23)

2) DISTINGUISH between those who "Do" and those who "Hear, but do not act" - "everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built
his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell - and great was its fall! (Mt 7:24-29)

3) EMPHASIZE the fall of the house "and it fell - AND GREAT WAS ITS FALL!"; and in other parts of the bible: "wailing and grinding of teeth",
"Being thrown out", "being locked out of the Banquet", "being in the utter darkness".

He came into the world to unite us to Himself... He invited the poor shepherds, He invited the Kings/Wisemen. He was not born in the hustle and bustle of the main tavern, town hall or
city square. He came to us yes; but He was born out of the way so that we would be able to choose to go to Him. When those first Shepherds arrived, they found him lying in a manger. Do you realize how bizarre and appropriate that is at the same time? A manger is a feeding trough
for animals. Jesus' first place to lie down - his first crib - was essentially a dinner plate for animals. Now in the Eucharist He comes to us as food for our souls. This is not a symbolic food; this is food that is as real as He is. Just as the actual Christ was placed in the
manger, now He places himself in the faithful. Did you know that there is a strong relation between those who go to church frequently and those who believe in the efficacy of the sacraments? Did you know that is particularly the case in the sacrament of the Eucharist? Those whose
beliefs are strong in the true presence are more likely to attend mass regularly (that is to say weekly or even more frequently). What an exceptional humble birth!

When the Wisemen (Kings) arrive they present very significant gifts. Their mere presence is significant in itself
for not only does God call the lowly, but the mighty as well. The mighty who, like the lowly, humble themselves in prostration, essentially laying their lives before the king who is God. Their gifts signify their understanding: Gold was the gift given to a King! Frankincense
was a gift/offering given to a god who in this case is THE God. And Myrrh, the strangest gift to give a small child for it is the oil for anointing the dead. These ordinary gifts brought by mighty yet ordinary people signify an exceptional reception of Christ.
Jesus comes to us where we are but does not expect or want us to stay where we are at. In each of the Gospels we hear Jesus saying "Follow me". We also hear Jesus calling us to "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt 5:48)! What an exceptional invitation!
God is truly exceptional! Let us in this coming year strive to live, to be, exceptional in our life as followers of Christ.

May you have a blessed and exceptionally Holy Christmas and New Year.

In Christ through Mary,

God Bless you.


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