We seem to have made it through another Christmas Day and through another New Year’s Eve and Day. But let us not let the Birth of Christ once again, once again in our hearts, we pray, fade away as quietly as the holidays. For the birth of that baby, the Word becoming flesh, holds the key to our health and salvation. That birth holds the key to our forgiveness from which come our health and salvation.

There is a New Testament legend that I want to tell you. It’s a legend about the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and their flight to Egypt which is the Gospel today.[1]

The legend runs like this. When Joseph and Mary were on their way to Egypt, they were waylaid by robbers. One of the robber chiefs wished to murder them at once and to steal everything they had. But something about the baby Jesus went to the heart of one of the robbers. He refused to allow any harm to come to Jesus or his parents. He looked at the Baby and said, “O blessed of children, if ever there come a time for having mercy on me, then remember me, and forget not this hour.” So, the legend says, Jesus and the robber met again at Calvary. That robber was the penitent thief who hung on a cross where Jesus showed him forgiveness and mercy.

Whether this lovely legend actually happened or not is beside the point. The legend tells an important truth, and that truth is this. The Birth of that Baby brought mercy and forgiveness not only to the robber, but to us as well. Each of us has wronged his heart of love, but as we follow this baby from his birth to his resurrection, over and over again, year after year, decade after decade, we find that his heart of love contains more than enough of the mercy and the forgiveness that we all need. The heart that can forgive the robber, and die for the robber, can forgive us and die for us as well.

[1] Saint Matthew 2:13-15 and 19-23.

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