Let me share with you a story about a family who many often
jokingly referred to as the "perfect family."
The mother and father were blessed with good looks, charming
personalities, and above average intelligence, and their three
good-looking children excelled in both their studies and their other
school activities. Since the father was a doctor, the family was
also never lacking for many creature comforts.
While most people genuinely liked this family, there were some
who envied their many blessings. One man in particular, whose life
was a daily struggle simply to make ends meet for himself and his
disabled mother, resented this family so much that whenever he had
the opportunity, he would dump garbage onto their front yard.
One year this man’s mother suffered a stroke which left her
speechless and partially blind. The man loved his mother probably
more than anything else in this world and would do anything to make
her life as happy and comfortable as possible.
But what his mother now needed was an expensive operation and
some specialized therapy, all of which was financially out of reach
for him. Yes, he loved his mother most dearly, but now in her time
of greatest need, he could do nothing but watch her health slowly
This man attended the same church as the doctor and his family,
and when he would see the "perfect family" at Sunday Mass, he
resented them even more because of their abundant material blessings
and his very few.
The pastor of this parish was well aware of the man’s deep
frustration at not being able to help his mother as he would like,
but knew nothing about his resentment towards the doctor and his
family. So one day he approached the doctor, knowing he was a member
of the hospital’s board of directors and could possibly help the
After the pastor explained to the doctor the poor man’s
situation, the doctor told him he would get back in touch with him
after he had a chance to discuss his request, not with the
hospital’s board of directors, but rather with his wife.
Since the doctor and his family had moved from another state, no
one knew much about the "perfect family’s" background. In
particular, no one knew that 12 years earlier the doctor’s mother
had been killed in a horrible automobile accident, and the doctor
and his sister had received a multi-million dollar insurance
The doctor and his wife had agreed to invest all they received in
the settlement and to never spend a single cent of it for their own
needs. Thus, in the years which followed, they very discretely began
to distribute their portion of the settlement to people they
believed were really most in need and would be unable to find any
other source of assistance.
After seriously considering the man’s situation, they decided to
totally pay for his mother’s medical bills whatever they might be.
While the doctor could never bring his own mother back to life, he
figured he had a moral obligation to help restore another person’s
mother to health if at all possible. The only condition the
doctor and his wife placed upon their gift was that it was to be
totally anonymous, and under no circumstance was the man to ever be
told their name.
The woman received the operation and therapy she needed and was
released from the hospital on Christmas eve. She and her son
attended Mass the next day, feeling that they were enjoying one of
their very best of all Christmases, and that finally they truly had
been blessed by God more than they could have ever imagined.
Sadly however, when the doctor and his family walked down the
church aisle, the man quickly lost his feeling of "peace on earth
and good will to all" as he allowed his deep bitterness and
resentment towards the doctor’s family ruin his Christmas day Mass.
I tell you this story because we are all blessed during our lives
and many times don’t know from where our blessings come. But in the
end, all blessings are really a gift from God, and all God
ever asks for the love He shares with us is that we in turn share
our love with others. That is what we pray for this
Christmas when we pray for peace on earth. A prayer for peace on
earth is not exclusively a prayer for peace in the Middle East or in
some other war-torn part of our globe. It is also a prayer for
good will in our communities, in our parishes, and in our families.
That is where peace on earth really begins.
I pray today that you and your family will truly have a Christmas
season blessed with an abundance of peace and good health. I pray
that you and all those dear to you may realize all your Christmas
wishes, and that the Christmas of 2003 may truly be one to remember.
And on that note, please let me again call upon your
generosity. In the weeks ahead, people will come to us, as the
man in the story came to his pastor seeking help in his time of
need. As the good Lord has blessed you, please help us share some
of your blessings with others, and especially with those most in
need. On the enclosed form you will see pictured two
appreciation gifts I would like to share with you as my way of
thanking you for all your help.
May the Lord bless you with an abundance of peace now and in the
new year to come. Since you, your loved ones, and your
Christmas prayer petitions will be prayed for
in two Christmas Mass Novenas, one in Nazareth and one here at
the Immaculate Heart of Mary Shrine, please make sure you write the
names of your loved ones and any other needs you would like prayed
for on the enclosed form.
In the love and peace of Our Blessed Savior,
Fr. Matthias Man, C.M.C.
P.S. If your Christmas donation is $50 or more, I will not only
have a Christmas Votive Candle lit for your intentions, or that of
another, but will also see that a gift tag, with your name written
upon it, is attached to one of the beautiful poinsettia plants which
will decorate the Shrine Chapel this Christmas season.