Erie Bishop Lawrence T. Persico

Erie Bishop Lawrence Persico, Christmas 2021  Photo/
Anne-Marie Welsh

ERIE — Advent, the season of hope.

           Christmas, a time of wonder.

           While these may not be the first phrases that come to mind this year, I suggest they can and should be.

           Not to minimize the challenges we continue to experience. The loss and fear created by the pandemic, as well as its long-term nature, continue to impact our lives. What are the right decisions as we make plans to travel and to gather for this second Christmas in pandemic? How do we balance physical, mental and social well-being? Are additional variants lurking?

           We also cannot ignore the toll that civil, political and social strife is taking on our lives. So why do I believe we can get back to hope and wonder?

           Because of Jesus Christ.

           I don’t offer that as a simple platitude. At Christmas, we celebrate the fact that Jesus not only took on our human nature, but he raised it up. That has not changed. Why do we spend so much time and energy trying to pull that human nature down?

           It seems to me we are allowing all these trials to control our lives. But if we truly believe we’re created in the image and likeness of God, then with humble, open hearts and a commitment to prayer, we can reclaim the fruits of the Holy Spirit, including love, joy, peace and yes, self-control.

           Change will take effort and it will not happen overnight. We will have to try and try again. Ironically, regaining control against pervasive fear and negative attitudes will require some letting go. We don’t always have to enter the fray.

           What if we pray for wisdom and humility rather than running to the keyboard or raising our voices to argue with those who have opinions that differ from our own?

           It may seem counterintuitive and surprising, even.

           But then again, few would have expected the Christ Child to appear in a humble stable.

           May you and your loved ones be blessed with both hope and wonder.

The Erie Times-News first published this column in its December 18, 2021 edition.