By Mary Sayad

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    CHRISTMAS - 2006

    One Solitary Life

    He was born in an obscure village. He worked in a carpenter's shop until He was thirty and for those years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never traveled 200 miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that accompany man's idea of greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. Some of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth -- His coat. When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave. Nineteen centuries have come and gone and today He is the central figure of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have never affected the life of man upon earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.
    Anonymous

    The below narratives were taken from an Advent Booklet distributed in St. Bonaventure Church, Paterson, NJ. The booklet is dedicated to Bishop Ken Untener (1937 -2004) who was inspired to create the Little Books. His life and faith continue to be their driving force.

    The Name "Jesus"

    The name "Jesus" comes from a shortened form of the Hebrew "Joshua," one of the heroes of Jewish history (After Moses died, it was Joshua who led the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Promised Land.)

    Matthew 1:21 - "She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

    Hebrew names were often a phrase or saying that said something about God. "Joshua" was popularly interpreted as meaning "Yahweh saves." Thus, the angel's words to Joseph: "You are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

    There is an old custom of bowing one's head every time the name of "Jesus" is spoken. Children were taught to do this from their earliest years. It was one of the little ways by which we nurtured our faith.

    Times have changed... but not necessarily for the better. Today, the name of Jesus is commonly used as an expression of surprise or anger.

    One way of preparing for the birth of Jesus would be to take a good look at how I use his name. Use it now, reverently, as you speak directly to him.

    The Coming of God

    The Jewish people's beloved homeland was occupied by the pagan Romans in the 15th year of Teberious Caesar. There was oppression. The holy places had been taken from the people.

    Pontius Pilate was Procurator. He was a mean, malicious man. Historians have not been good to him. And there was Herod….the local Jewish leaders….petty princes who lived rotten lives and who were an embarrassment to the people. Annas and Caiphas were not the most revered high priests.

    And it was into that world that Jesus was born.

    That is the world into which God brought his son - a land made unholy by the presence of the Roman soldiers, a homeland marred by local princes who were not good. That's the world that come to.

    It's not O.K. that there's terrorism and poverty and crime and drugs and war. but the Lord came to this world. He didn't come to the safe places of the world. He came where there was oppression and crime and bad parts of life.

    And this coming gave - and continues to give - new meaning , hope and goodness to the whole world.

    Such is Christmas. It's the feast of the promise that all will be well. Jesus has come. Peace and good will are all round us. Not fully realized and fulfilled. But promised…and for sure.

    This child has been born for me. For those I love. For everyone.

    Did ever something happen that was so good?

    **********

    Beloved Friends,

    There's always hope and the faith that inspires us all with the spirit of love and charity.

    May Jesus and Mary Bless you and your families during this Christmas season and always. May you enjoy the blessings of good health with peace and love in your hearts!

    Your companion in prayer,
    Mary