- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Rev. Jose Eugenio Hoyos, director of Hispanic ministry for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, preached this sermon Christmas Eve at St. Philip Catholic Church in Falls Church.

The most important and anticipated day has arrived — the birth of our Holy Savior, Jesus Christ. After weeks of spiritual preparation, we feel stronger, somehow more ready to receive with open arms that special spirit that comes to us. Undoubtedly, the Holy Spirit comes at a time of ongoing war, economic struggle, hunger in Third World countries, youth violence, lack of solidarity, and loss of respect and love for one another.

With the birth of our Savior, we might ask ourselves how we might change this social panorama. His birth, after all, enables us to become strong, to make a difference. Jesus, Emmanuel, “God among us” wishes that we become the light that shines on others as the Holy Scriptures read: “[T]he day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).

Christmas must be a time of profound reflection, a time of sharing with those most in need, a time of leaving behind the negativity, and a time of accepting others, including those called “immigrants,” who are also our brothers and sisters. Christmas is a time to participate or share with humanitarian groups or organizations. For more than 2,000 years, Jesus has called us through His teachings to be prepared for His special visit. May our society — beginning with our own personal involvement — demonstrate the true act and meaning of Christmas.

This Christmas, let us spend more time on our faith than on the gifts we receive; let our prayers for one another be the demonstration of our affection, rather than material items. Let us return to the root of our religion and embrace our faith. We cannot ignore the tragedies we have all endured this past year, nor can we forget the families who have lost their homes and loved ones in the recent hurricanes and tornados.

We are not a separate community. When Jesus came to the world, He was part of a community with Joseph and the Virgin Mary. All of us together: Filipinos, African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics and other different races represent all the different people who came to the manger to worship the Messiah. Whether you’re black, Hispanic, Asian, poor or rich, this is the time for celebration.

God is coming to give light to every one of us, and we have the mission to multiply that light. Our faith tells us that through the darkness and above all the clouds, the light of Him will always shine upon us.

Even though we are having a hard time as Hispanics because of immigration issues, the star of Bethlehem reminds us to be joyful in the country in which God has placed us. For many of us, Christmas is not a happy moment because of our separated families. Therefore, we need to be patient.

Christmas is the birth of our Savior and a time to be reborn with Him. Christmas is a time for solidarity and acts of humanitarianism through social justice and respect for human dignity.

May this Christmas be beautiful and filled with joy. Give thanks to God for every day given to us and, above all, for the gift of life.

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