[Editor’s Note: This article was published on Catholic Stand on December 25, 2015. We are republishing here for your holiday enjoyment, since the message is inspiring and relevant.]
Christmas has always been a time to celebrate with the ones we love. Each year, many anticipate reuniting with family members and friends and look forward to making new, life long memories. We experience the smiles on our children’s faces as they eagerly rip open their gifts to see what’s inside. Yet, amidst the gift giving and the gatherings, we should still find time to thank those who embody the elements of service and sacrifice during this time, ideals synonymous with the Christmas Spirit.
Our military personnel, currently serving overseas will not have the luxury of being with their families this year. Many have experienced this feeling before, and many will follow.
Since the inception of this great nation, men and women have answered the call to serve so that others may enjoy the privileges that come with being an American. They chose to miss out on that special Christmas at home. Instead, they made the most of it somewhere in Europe, the Pacific, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, and everywhere they have been needed. This was not done for the sake of popularity, but for purpose. Their actions were just. They accepted the challenge to stand against the threats, which attempted to jeopardize the truth and meaning of this joyful season. Though they may have been able to attend Mass (or a prayer service) or enjoy a brief celebratory moment with friends, the primary objective would not permit for prolonged festivities. Duty called.
Spending even one Christmas away from home has to be among the most challenging realities of service and sacrifice our brave men and women make. Yet, they continue to do it, because of an understanding of what matters most. Their witness is a testimony to the love that manifests within our hearts and minds as we cherish and discern the True Gift. We know that the Christmas season is not about finding that perfect present. The Holy Feast of the Nativity is about celebrating the arrival of the ‘Living Antidote’, who came to destroy sin and evil. The Incarnation, prophesied by Isaiah and others, demonstrated the epitome of love, goodness, service, and sacrifice; the fullness of God’s grace.
Our nation has always been blessed on account of those who have exhibited over the decades, an understanding that service (regardless of the sacrifices entailed) is essential to overcome any form of evil. As long as these pressures exist, a more dominant force must be present to neutralize and eliminate them. This sacrifice has never been an easy job. However, for those who have said “yes” they believe that serving others, without counting the costs, is the most precious form of giving. Of all the lyrics one can hear at this time of year, the one that always gets me is, “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams”.
In past years, I always asked my students to bring in names and addresses of anyone they knew who was currently serving overseas at Christmas time, so we could write letters to them. Merry Christmas to those currently deployed, wherever you are. Thank you for your service and I will pray for your safe return.
And to our past veteran’s: Merry Christmas to you, as well. Thank you for all your efforts in safeguarding our way of life, which has given us so many peaceful Christmas celebrations.