One of my favorite movies, at this time, is “The Grinch,” actually believe it or not. I know there are a couple of versions of “The Grinch.” There is one from decades ago, and then there is one with Jim Carey, the live-action one-shot decades ago. It is 20 years old, believe it or not. Then there is the new animated one. The new cartoon came out a few years ago. I like the one with Jim Carey because it goes really deep with the Grinch and how he had his conversion. It shows us behind the scenes how the Grinch left the community. How he left Whoville and how his heart was broken there. He ended up locking himself up in the lair, and from there, he just hated Christmas. He did not want anything to do with Christmas so much so that he wanted to be a “Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” That was his intent. Not only did he not like it himself, but he also tried to steal it from everybody else.
There is probably a part of all of us that is a little grinch-like. By that, I mean we are here to celebrate Christmas mass, where Jesus will be born on the altar. Some of us may struggle to come here. Some of us may struggle with belief. Some of us may struggle with faith. Some of you may even have been dragged here kicking and screaming. Who knows. But what I love about the Grinch is that it shows his conversion. This little girl, Cindy Lou, never stops believing in the Grinch. She always believes in his goodness, and she keeps inviting him to Whoville. She wants him to believe in Christmas. Through this little girl, through this child, he is brought to think and experience Christmas. By the end of the movie, one of the things he did not like about Christmas was all the consumerisms. There is a beautiful line at the end of the movie where he says, “Perhaps Christmas does not come from a store, perhaps maybe Christmas is a little bit more.”
We all know that there is this loss of Christ around Christmas time Christmas. I do not know if you know the actual word Christmas comes from is Christ/mass. That is why we celebrate Christmas; it is Christ / Mass. So, this is what Christmas is all about. It does not come from a store. Even today, we say Christmas is all about being together, but sometimes we cannot always be together. Does that ruin Christmas? No, because Christmas is something a little bit more. So, we are celebrating Christ’s mass.
I went on this journey to Whoville, and I thought, “I am going to ask the Grinch if he would come and be with us today so that I could talk a little bit about his story. I do not know if you could look around and see somewhere in the church to spot the Grinch. Where is he? Have you seen him? Oh, oh, I see him. I see hands. It is the Ggggrinch. Wow! Now, boys and girls, talk to your parents first, but if any of you want to come up closer and see the Grinch, you are welcome to come up here. Keep your distance from each other you can come up here. Just run-up, and you can sit right here. “Hi, Mr. Grinch. Thank you for coming. Wow, boys and girls. Parents, did you see how quickly they ran up here?”
One of the things I want to talk about with this mass today, this Christmas that we are celebrating, is that Jesus came, and the first ones he brought to the manger were through these angels, and he got the shepherds. The shepherds came with haste. They were so excited by this angel that they came with haste. They went right away to see Jesus born in the stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Just like these kids came with haste here to see the Grinch. Why did you come up here? Can anybody tell me? Boy, “I ran up to see the manger in the stable.” Girl, “At the end of the movie he grows a bigger heart.” That is a perfect answer that you wanted to see the Grinch because he grows a bigger heart. Anybody else? Another girl said, “I like when the Grinch gets an idea.”
These are like the shepherds, these children. When Christ was born and lying in a manger, the shepherds came with haste and excitement. Pope Benedict talked about this as having a holy curiosity. The shepherds had a holy curiosity. They came with haste because they had this curiosity. I hope that all of us at mass today have this same holy curiosity that we become to experience this mass to see what will happen on this altar because Christ comes to us at every gathering. He comes in four ways. The gathered assembly as all of you are gathered here. He comes in the word in the readings that we heard. He comes in the priest then ultimately; He comes in the Eucharist.
I want to ask an honest question. I need a volunteer, so I need you to be courageous, or you can blame the person you are with. Is anybody here because somebody else brought them here? Oh, look at all these hands. Your hands went up first over here. Can you two come up? Bring who brought you. Who brought you? Alright, you have to come up too. That was a lot of hands that went up there. Tell me why you are here. Lady, “To make my parents happy.” Does anybody else here like that? Are you the mother? Come here really quick. What did you have to do to get them here? “I just asked them.” Oh, that is so sweet. What good kids. So, the shepherds came because of an angel. The angel appeared to the shepherds and said, “You will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.” Then there was a multitude of angels. A whole multitude of angels invited them to come to the manger.
I want each of you to think about who brought you here today. I mean your parents, wife, or spouse, but that could even be your ancestors. Maybe it was your parents that brought you here. Maybe it is your grandparents. Maybe it is your child because you want them to grow up in the faith. Somebody got you here. I know that it was my parents and my grandparents on both sides for me. It was their constant inviting. Their constant saying, “Will you go with me.” That is what happened with the shepherds. They were brought there because of the voice of an angel. It is okay that you are here just by invitation because you can still discover Jesus. But again, we have to have that holy curiosity. How can I find it here?
Finally, my third point is, one of the little girls mentioned it. You said that the Grinch’s heart grew at the end of the story. Will you come up here, and then will my three nieces come up? So, what happens at the end of the movie? The Grinch’s heart grows. How many sizes? Three sizes, right? Girls give me three seats—a soul here, a heart here, and a heart here. So, the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes. I hope this Christmas is pure as the mass when we experience Christmas: Christ Mass is a holy curiosity. That we come here like the shepherds, that we come here in haste even if someone else invited us, we come here in haste. But finally, our heart grows three sizes because if we are not experiencing God in our lives, it is not because of God; it is because of our hearts. Sometimes our hearts are too small. That is why we celebrate every mass with the Penitential Rite, asking for the conversion of our hearts that he changes our hearts to be like Him.
I invite you if you have been away from the church, or away from the faith, or away from the sacraments; right now, maybe Christ is calling you back. Perhaps He wants you to experience this joy and this wonder, but we have to believe. I invite you in the silence; I will give you a little bit of silence after everybody is gone from here and ask Him for that. Lord, increase my heart. Lord help me to believe. Lord help me to wonder. So that we can all experience Christ Mass. The Grinch did bring a few gifts, so, girls, you can each pick a gift out. This is a little favoritism because they are my nieces. Show what you get. An empty water bottle. It is the Grinch, after all. A post-it note. Good. A paperclip. Wow. Grinch, you have not changed that much. Boys and girls, for coming up, you cannot eat this during mass, but I will give you some candy just for being so brave in coming up here.