Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Work of Christmas

In his homily on Sunday, 11th of January, my parish priest preached about the need to move away from the manger and from Bethlehem. "Else, he said, we'll remain isolated and lonely while the rest of the world - has moved on.

We have thanked God for the incredible gift of His son, celebrated the occasion of his incarnation, enjoyed the company of family and friends, we may even have spent time and effort to make the less fortunate among us a little bit happier. It was good, surely. Now we need to ensure that we don't just remain there - in our own "Bethlehems". Like the kings, the shepherds and angels, we too have to move on. Perhaps this reflection can make things a bit clearer:

When the song of the angel is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings are back home,
When the shepherds are once more with their flocks,
Then the work of Christmas begins:

"To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoners,
To rebuild nations,
To bring peace to all people,
To make joyful music in he heart"

And every time we do these things, we are following in the footsteps of the frightened shepherds who became God's messengers. They organised, made haste, found others and spoke with them.

How can we do this? Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV) clearly shows us how:

35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

My prayer is simply this: "That for the next 11 months, we strive a little bit more to emulate those folks of old - within our own environments and life situations - and become God's messengers too and begin the work of Christmas".