The best gift we might give the Christ
The Nativity of the Lord Christmas
December 25, 2009 (XmasC), by Fr.James Gilhooley
Readings: Christmas Mass at Midnight
Readings: Christmas Mass at Dawn
Readings: Christmas Mass During the Day
Lecturas y Comentarios para Natividad del Senor
Discussion Questions & Online Bible Study
Burning Question: Was the Blessed Virgin Mary a Virgin Forever?
The story is told of a young lay missionary carefully picking her way through the killing fields of Rwanda. She met a boy whom she knew to be Catholic. Shortly before he had witnessed his parents, brothers, and sisters being hacked to death by rampaging terrorists. He told her he no longer believed Jesus is God. Though she suspected the reason, she asked why. He replied, "If Jesus is God, he should be able to do the things that God does. God made the trees and the trees make other trees. God made elephants and the elephants make other elephants. Now if Jesus is God, he should be able to make other Jesuses. Yet I have never seen another Jesus."
This Christmas the best gift we might give the Christ and this disillusioned boy as well as our family and friends is to become "another Jesus." You and I should not merely be Christian and Catholic. Rather, we should be Christ figures. Perhaps we may have forgotten to put this item on our Christmas list. Why not do so this very instant?Last minute gifts it is said are oftentimes the best and most prized.
What would happen if we do not choose this way to go? We unhappily would lay ourselves open to a serious indictment this Christmas. People examining our Christian lives would be forced to agree with the wordsmith who declared that many of the dead are still walking about. And, if we are not afraid of the truth, most of us would have to place ourselves among them.
The Trappist Thomas Merton puts the case for a fresh understanding of Christmas this way. "Christ is born to us today so that He may appear to the whole world through us. This one day is the day of His birth, but every day of our mortal lives must be His manifestation." That unhappy boy in Rwanda would heartily agree. So too would that young lay missionary. So would all of us after even brief reflection on this Christmas day.
George Orwell summed up the thoughts of Charles Dickens on this season in ten words. "If men would behave decently, the world would be decent." Is there anyone of us who would dispute Orwell's judgment? Mr Dickens you will recall wrote "A Christmas Carol" in 1843. There he argued a self-cleansing of the heart of each of us is the only genuine way to change the world about us. His exact words were, "I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all year..."
Christmas does not merely tell a story about a Jewish Infant. Rather it points to an adult Man named Jesus who proved to be most singular. He not only changed the small country about Him but also He possesses the capacity to change us. Through Him, we can cease being selfish people and become noble individuals ourselves.
It could be, said one preacher, that the only Jesus we ever envision is the Babe in the manger. But the Babe became a challenging Man. He is much too large for a manger. And, if you attempt to squeeze Him back into it, all you will receive for your efforts will be powerfully painful splinters in both hands. In fact, He is larger than life itself.
Accept Him then as He is - the Lord. Allow Him to turn your life inside out and upside down.
You may feel that your contribution to the commonweal is so Lilliputian as not to count. If so, listen to this ancient story. A warrior was coming down a road on a mighty mount. Everyone got out of his way. He came upon a sparrow lying on his back with his feet up in the air. Demanded the warrior, "What are you doing, you silly twit?" The sparrow replied, "I was told the sky was going to fall down and I am attempting to hold it up." The warrior laughed and laughed till the tears ran down his scarred face. He shouted, "Even if the sky were to fall down, what help would you be with those thin little legs?" The sparrow, completely nonplussed, said softly, "You do what you can."
Have we not been told often that no one of us can do everything, but each one can do something? Today is the day for you to begin. Do what you can. And notice the difference in yourself and others. I share with you a greeting a friend sent to me: "Carols to sing slightly off key, a family found in easy laughter, and instant replay ever after."