Now that we have completed our centenary celebrations of the Mission and school, our hearts can turn to a celebration of Christmas. But a casual remark passed by our bishop at the centenary Mass of thanksgiving, linger in my thoughts and seem so very appropriate to reflecting on that first Christmas day.
The bishop spoke of the arrival of the first missionaries in Zuni and the celebration of Mass, arguably one of the first on US soil. Bishop remarked that since around 1538 Christ’s Eucharistic presence has been with us in this remote pueblo, and although at times unseen, He has been with us and continues to be so.
The Christ child came among us in a remote corner of our world, a place no one really cared about, described once as a “rest stop” on travelers’ journeys. Yet at that moment humanity and divinity were united and although very few even noticed, the resulting effect was the transformation of the world affecting the lives of generations spanning the globe.
The shepherds, the Magi, Joseph and Mary encountered the divine presence in a lonely place, through a silent child, born into poverty, homelessness and rejection. Their response to the child evoked awe, devotion and love as they took to heart the heavenly message of “Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards all”.
Few would have known about the first mission to Zuni. Yet even when the missionaries had departed, that Christ presence remained, perhaps unseen, until the Franciscans re-established their mission in 1923. Seed was sown. Since then the lives of hundreds of children have been touched and indeed transformed as they have encountered Christ in their education, their spiritual lives and by the witness of the Mission. The Christmas story continues to unfold.
In a world that tries to ignore the Gospel message it continues to spread as our young people learn to embrace their heritage, respect each person, grow strong in spirit and faith to transform themselves and the world around them. They embrace Peace and Goodwill towards all people and spread the Good News by their witness of life.
While we move to continue our Mission for a second century, we all pray that the Peace, which the Christ child offered to the world, will rest firmly in your hearts and in your family. May the seed of Christ continue to grow within you as it is nourished here.
Be blessed this Christmas and always.