If we help others see a new light … the light (dream) God has given us will never fade
Happy Christmas and May True Joy be Yours!
Today we celebrate with joy, that God wants to show us how much God loves you: becoming one of us and walking in the reality of our lives: the good, bad & ordinary.
The First Reading paints a beautiful picture of new life: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;”. But, what if we don’t feel like celebrating, or we don’t see any new light? Perhaps a loved one is no longer with us for Christmas for the first time?
Christmas can be lost because we didn’t prepare properly in Advent, but all is not lost. God is always ready, even for last-minute “disorganised” people.
If you feel resentment, disconnection or emptiness after reading the First Reading, consider the following analogy: a young man is invited to a Christmas gathering where a rich man will give start-up capital to young people with a plan and vision for a business. They have to be present at the meeting, however, and after the door closes you cannot enter, or receive the capital.
So, our man is a bit lazy, but comes up with a business plan. He then starts drinking/ playing, while boasting to friends that he’ll soon be a rich businessman. On Christmas Day, the trains are on strike and the buses are few due to lack of travellers. He decides to use his motorbike, but remembers he didn’t get the back tire fixed – it’s flat!
So he pushes the bike to the garage for repair, but has to wait two hours before the mechanic arrives. He’s late for the meeting and the door is closed. His dream is finished, the new light fades away.
Are we like the young man who failed to prepare properly for his big dream? For Christmas to be life-changing, it requires each person to make a sacrifice of personal things in order to empower or appreciate other people: to look at community needs, rather than personal needs. Community celebrations are dead unless people come: and come with something to share.
If not material gifts, come early to share time and talents to help prepare; stay back after everyone leaves to clean-up the mess. Togetherness strengthens relationships.
Of course, these days, we need to be smart-people and turn off our smart-phones, laughing and sharing stories with those we meet at our celebrations.
Our relationships and laughter prevent depression and increase hope for the coming year. Just as Christ came as a baby to build a new relationship with each of us, Christmas reminds us to be helpful to others and allow others to help us.
We can be, in human terms, wealthy or poor; our food and drinks may be many or few; but what really makes Christmas is the love we have for each other: love that is giving. The reality is that the more we try to give the other, the more we receive over time.
Christmas reminds us that a baby cannot give back to their parents in the short term: there is just a lot of love and sacrifice required from the parents to the child: that’s how meaningful relationships are created. What God gives us: skills, talents, relationships and opportunities, cannot be paid back quickly: perhaps not even after a lifetime of “good works”.
Perhaps, today, no matter how old we are, is a good day to reflect on what God gave us through our parents, and challenge ourselves about how giving are we? To our parents, our children, to people in need? Christmas reminds us to appreciate what we have and, hopefully, create in us a desire to give back to the community – not just my family or friends.
The community gives us life, just as much as our parents and family. God reached out to us as a Community. Do we? The more we do, the happier we will be.
Can you and I be God’s instrument to do what Isaiah foretold:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing.”
Who do we know that is dwelling in gloom: loss, failure, struggle? Happy Christmas!
By Gerard Conlan, OMI