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Third Sunday of Advent

At my parents’ home in Dublin, we have a front room that we rarely use. We only use it when the parish priest comes to visit or for special occasions like weddings, parties, and around Christmas time. Then we light a big fire in the fireplace, put a big Christmas tree up, and we place presents under that tree. On Christmas afternoon all the family come to visit, my brothers and sisters with their children. My brother David, an idiot among idiots, in fact king of the idiots, dresses as Santa and distributes the gifts. Except for having to listen to my brother it’s really a great time and the kids love it.

A few years ago, I was able to go home for Christmas, and the first thing I did was investigate the front room. I was amazed to see that one whole side of the room was filled, floor to ceiling, wall to wall, with gifts all decorated in colorful wrapping paper. I was amazed, shocked, and saddened. It was really too much. For children who have everything this was overboard. Sometimes we can be caught up in the superficial, the passing, and the illusions of this world.

Fortunately, my nieces and nephews have great parents, they want for nothing, and they are surrounded by love and affection. They are also taught to care for each other and for others. They are generous, kind, as well as mischievous and fun loving. They are great kids. This is how they have been raised, this is who they are, because this is who their parents are, and these are their parents’ values. Now these values are true gifts. These values will be passed on to their children so they will also grow up in warm, kind, compassionate, generous, and joyful homes. That’s a gift from my parents to their children, and a gift from my brothers and sisters to their children, and it will be a gift from my nieces and nephews to their children. These are gifts worth having and they are given from fathers/mothers to their sons and daughters, from generation to generation.

During a recent school Mass, I asked the children “why do we give gifts to each other at Christmas?” Immediately one of the littlest ones said: “It reminds us that God gave us the gift of Jesus at Christmas.” What a wonderful answer from such a tiny little scholar. God gave us the gift of His own Son at Christmas. Now, with that insight reflecting what is in her heart, that little child has been given a great gift from her parents. I’m sure the same is true for all our children. Passing on the values of Jesus into the hearts of our children is a gift that is worth having and it is a gift that will bless generations to come. At Christmas be sure to pass on the most important gift of all – faith in a little Child born in a manger.


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