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Blog Author: Pat Mackey

A Christmas Thought

Pat Mackey

Posted: December 23, 2015

It is strange that one of my most enduring Christmas memories came from a priest’s sermon. It was Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve a few years back at the venerable Basilica of St. John the Baptist here in St. John’s. My mom had expressed a desire to attend the mass, having fond memories of the service from when she first moved to town from Holyrood many years ago. Myself and my brother Jim teamed up to make it happen. Now if you have never witnessed Midnight Mass at the Basilica before, you really should think of giving it a try. I am not a very religious person, but between the grand church decorated head to foot in Christmas lights, the hour long carolling before the mass or even just the palpable sense of goodwill in the air, it is a real treat.

Archbishop Curry celebrated the mass and in his homily, reminisced about a Christmas he spent away as a young priest. He was in Monsefú, Peru, taking a year to work with the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland in their mission amongst the poor of that South American country. He recalled how down and homesick he was, being so far from his family and everything familiar on this particular Christmas Eve night. He had just finished celebrating Midnight Mass when a local family asked him to join them for their Christmas feast. He was touched and agreed. Following them to their tiny home, nestled amongst many other tiny and humble homes, he became very self conscious. The area was quite poor. And he wondered if it was selfish to be imposing on this family who obviously did not have very much. And it turned out to be true. Their feast consisted of one fish. One fish for this family and their guest. But their delight in being able to share this one fish with their guest that Christmas obviously meant the world to them.

And the message meant the world to me. It is in the giving that this season shines. Selfless, honest giving. It never really sunk in so profoundly as it did in the moment, at that mass, on that Christmas Eve. And it has stayed with me ever since.

Merry Christmas.