Fr. Mike Paraniuk
Fr. Mike Paraniuk
By Fr. Mike Paraniuk
St. Mary Catholic Church
And St. Benignus Catholic Church

On Christmas Eve, a husband went shopping to buy his wife a Christmas gift. He entered a cosmetic store and asked the sales lady, “May I see your perfumes?”

She showed him a perfume bottle costing $150. “Too expensive”, he muttered. The young lady returned with a smaller bottle for $75. “Still far too much,” he groused.

Growing annoyed at his meanness, the sales lady brought out a tiny $30 bottle and offered it to him. He grew impatient, demanding, “Please show me something really cheap!”

The sales girl handed him a mirror.

Every Christmas, God hands you a mirror. He wants you to see where to find the most real, the truest and the most lasting joy in life. Christmas shows you where it is.

True joy lies in the act of giving without expecting anything in return. All the saints have one thing in common. They generously devoted their lives to make the lives of other people better. The ultimate meaning of living can be found in making other people happy.

Gandhi said, “To find yourself, lose yourself in the service of others.”

Jesus said, “He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39.)

My first assignment came in 1981 as an assistant priest in western Cincinnati. I befriended a family who invited me to their home on Christmas day.

Judd, the father, showed me one of his presents. It was a 1981 Zenith table radio. That radio was "the bomb," the finest radio made that year. I wanted to buy one but could not afford it at $129 ($305 today).

I immediately broke the 10th Commandment. I coveted my neighbor’s radio. Judd let me fire it up to “test” it. It was a pure delight.

I visited a few other families before returning home. Upon my return, I saw the coveted Zenith radio sitting on my porch with a ribbon on top. There was a note which read, “I happily give you this gift. Remember me every time you play it. Love, Judd.”

Forty years later, I still have that radio. I still enjoy it every morning. I start my day remembering Judd’s generous gift.

Jesus wants to be remembered. He wants to be remembered for giving us the greatest gift – the gift of His Love. Jesus took on a human body to show it. Jesus gave away His life to gift us with eternal life.

Catholics believe in the Mass that bread and wine become transformed into the very Body and Blood of the glorified Jesus. The Incarnation of God is made all a new in Holy Communion.

Jesus, through the priest, closes the consecration prayer with, “Do this in memory of Me.” What is the “this” we should do? The “this” is to make your life a gift of love, using your life to help others, and offering your life in service just like Jesus did.

Jesus is saying, “Remember, I did this for you. Now, do this for one another, in memory of what I did for you.”

Jesus is born again with every kind deed from the goodness in your heart. God says in Titus 2:14 we should be “eager to do what is good.”

Not long after Judd gifted me the radio, he passed on to the true Christmas in Heaven.

I remember him telling me, “Fr. Mike, I bet one day you’ll have your own radio station.”

I laughed at the thought. Thirty-three years later, his prophecy came true when WLRU went on the air from St. Mary on Dec. 24, 2014. The first live broadcast was midnight Christmas Mass.

It’s ironic that I listen to the station almost every morning on the very Zenith radio Judd gave me on Christmas Day 1981.

“Make your light shine, so others will see the good you do and will praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16.)

May Love shine brightly from your home, your hearth, and your heart every day. Merry Christmas.