This Christmas, I find myself thinking back to the Gospel reading we heard on the Third Sunday of Advent (Matthew 11:2-11), pondering at the words used by Jesus asking the people what they were looking for. The questions being “what did you go out to see?” and “why?”…
“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?”
Reflecting on this Advent and Christmas season, I see parents, grandparents, college students, children, and teenagers all living out the call of charity, in not only providing monetary gifts but also gifts of compassion and servitude to those who are in dire need. These people are bringing hope, love, and Christ into the darkness and destitution of those who would not otherwise experience the season as a season of hope or good will.
The seasons of Advent and Christmas are about providing hope and giving of oneself. It’s where the words within the Gospel are truly acted out in real life. It is the time of year when people are more generous, kind, self-sacrificing, and loving towards their neighbors and friends. If you were to ask me what I get out of the season, I would tell you that it’s the peace and good will exhibited and brought forth by the good deeds of every person. We see the Kingdom of God a little more clearly though our active participation in being brothers and sisters to the least among us.
Though this time of year is filled with the busyness and anxiety of fulfilling so many holiday obligations, the season of Advent gifted us the ability to step back and reflect on our lives, while Christmas provides the us greatest gift of all: God sending his Son into the word to share his love and mercy towards all humankind. It is my hope and prayer that we all experience that generosity, love, peace within our homes, family and neighbors during this Christmas season.
Let us Pray:
The feast day of your birth resembles you, Lord
Because it brings joy to all humanity.
Old people and infants alike enjoy your day.
Your day is celebrated
from generation to generation.
Kings and emperors may pass away,
And the festivals to commemorate them soon lapse.
But your festival will be remembered until the end of time.
Your day is a means and a pledge of peace.
At your birth heaven and earth were reconciled,
Since you came from heaven to earth on that day
You forgave our sins and wiped away our guilt.
You gave us so many gifts on the day of your birth:
A treasure chest of spiritual medicines for the sick;
Spiritual light for the blind;
The cup of salvation for the thirsty;
The bread of life for the hungry.
In the winter when trees are bare,
You give us the most succulent spiritual fruit.
In the frost when the earth is barren,
You bring new hope to our souls.
In December, when seeds are hidden in the soil,
The staff of life springs forth from the virgin womb.
— St. Ephraim, the Syrian
Peace and All Good, and Merry Christmas,