We originally published this Christmas reflection written by Fr. Ted Hesburgh, C.S.C. on December 24, 2012. Fr. Hesburgh, C.S.C. professed Final Vows in the Congregation of Holy Cross on August 16, 1939, and was ordained a priest on June 24, 1943. He served as President of the University of Notre Dame for 35 years, helping build Notre Dame into the premier Catholic research university that it is today.
Christmas is, for me, a great sign of hope. You look at the news in the New York Times, and there is not much hope on the front page. But, with Christmas there is eternal joy, and there is happiness. With Christmas, into this blackened and abandoned world comes a Savior, a little Child. And that little Child brings with Him the promise that beyond whatever hardships or hunger or troubles we experience here on earth awaits immortality and the eternal life and joy of heaven.
That is why Christmas, first of all, at its most basic, is about faith. Jesus came to bring us faith – not just faith in the moment or faith in business or faith in success, but faith in eternal life.
And that faith, as Christmas reminds us, normally breaks into our lives through family. The story of Christmas revolves around a family and the birth of its child, who happens to be a child for all the world. Family life can reflect for us eternal life. Through the faith that family passes on to us and through the fellowship it forms among us, we can glimpse and begin entering into eternity.
That is why Blessed Basil Moreau, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, modeled the priests, brothers, and sisters of Holy Cross on the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. That is why at places like Notre Dame, we in Holy Cross seek to build family with others.
This is a very special time of the year for all families. We have to bring hope where there isn’t any hope; we have to bring faith where things are faithless; we have to bring religion into places where it really doesn’t exist.
Most of all, we need to bring to others the hope of eternity, as that is what ultimately gives meaning to our lives. And while Christmas is just a little touch of that, the celebration of Christmas prepares us to live good lives on this earth so that we can come to the eternal Christmas in heaven.