Christmas will have arrived before I write to you again. We will be reminded by our celebrations that Jesus—God the Word made flesh—has come into the world. Light has entered the darkness. The Kingdom of God is at hand. The Kingdom is here, now, and it is up to us through the power of the Holy Spirit, to make it visible to the world.
Joan Chittister, OSB, writes, “We do not come to Christmas to pretend that the baby Jesus is born again this day. Nor do we pretend that on this day the baby Jesus is born in some mystical way in us. We come to Christmas looking for the signs of Jesus’ presence manifested in our life and age, in us and in the world around us.”
I believe this is true. We really want to see the Kingdom, don’t we? We want to see Jesus and we do see Jesus. We just might not realize it with all the horror that we see and read about. In the last few months I have seen, personally, or heard about the following—much of it right around us:
I see a parish hall filled with boxes of food and bags full of Christmas for those who have nothing or little, and I see that same parish hall filled with food boxes each and every month to give to the hungry. We see Trinity Youth Group go on a mission trip every summer to help those in need. Sunday after Sunday, I see people taking time to pray for those who ask for it at prayer stations. We hear about many answers. I observe people listening to those who need to be heard.
I know of people who drive others to doctor’s appointments and who deliver meals or groceries to those who can’t get out or are not able to fix them for whatever reason. There are people who knit hats for newborns in the hospital; prayer shawls for those who need healing and comfort; and sew lap quilts for those in wheel chairs. Some serve at the food bank and/or the clothing bank and Meals on Wheels. I hear prayers instead of curses in heavy traffic or when a driver does something dumb and dangerous, and I hear kind words and see smiles in long lines at the supermarket, etc. etc.
I know people who spent time working in a Mexican dump to help those living there and building a house for a family living at the mission. Some have sent Christmas presents to the children there instead of buying them for each other. I see a housing project for the poor in our town that is amazing. There are people working to provide clean water in places where it is not available. I know some of them. So do you. I know Daughters of the King who pray with the homeless at the St. Francis Center on Sundays. There are children who forego Christmas and birthday presents for themselves asking that the money that would be spent be used to help others, instead.
These are all, mostly, right in our own back yard, and there are more. You have your stories, too. Perhaps these seem like small things compared to the enormous need, but each little flame in the darkness makes it possible to see God’s Kingdom on earth, today. It is visible if we look around. Some of us pray each day for the spread of the Kingdom throughout the world. We are called to be part of the answer to that prayer. The darkness has not and will not overcome the light. Alleluia!!
The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. ~ John 1:14
Happy and Blessed Christmas to you, dear flames.