Thank you for listening to the series of reflections from the Nazareth Retreat Center. The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth pray that you have a blessed and safe Christmas!
REFLECTION FOR CHRISTMAS
We are finally coming to Christmas Day 2020! Arriving at this point is like no other Christmas celebration we have known. Our memories run deep of past Christmases – of family and faith traditions – of remembering how our faith became more mature, how we experienced love by those around us. In time we understood a different kind of gift not wrapped in packages. It was Christmas Love.
That said, these past nine plus months at Nazareth, and I’m guessing for all of you as well, have not been your ordinary preparation for Christmas.
We might say:
‘It has just messed up everything! Everyone has suffered, and our ordinary way of living interrupted.’ We haven’t been able to shop, to enjoy friends and family- the way we’d like. We‘ve tried to social distance, and often it was awkward.
On the other hand, we spent more time reading, reflecting and praying; we stayed tuned to media coverage, in an effort to get a bigger picture of what was happening around us, often sharing insights with one another. Still, our patience was tried. Before long persons were admitting at least to themselves, “All this Pandemic stuff is getting to me.”
But ‘all this stuff’ was making us look at the not so pleasant side of ourselves, how hard it was to let go of familiar ways of doing things! We saw so much suffering of patients being isolated, and dying without the consolation of family presence, laid-off employees down to their last resources, some giving up hope, cameras capturing cruel injustices in the streets.
People began to organize so they could speak as a group, and before long the world was beginning to speak. We heard the cries of injustice more clearly from Black and Brown peoples. It was painful to watch, but it could not be covered up. The terms racism and implicit bias took on fresh meaning for those of us who are white. Making attitudes change would require all of us to change our awareness level for start. We saw more clearly those who were disproportionately affected with job loss and illness from the Pandemic. It was not fair, but what to do.
We prayed for peace into and through a Presidential Election in the US. Other nations of people were praying too.
Will we remember what has happened to us in these past few months? Will we be touched by the suffering and anxiety, the precious lives lost? Or was it all just about loss of time and money? Shall we ever look at “essential workers” and take them for granted? For each of us it may be a bit different, but I think we will find, ‘Our hearts are restless, and we want to do something to make life better for those who suffer, even if all it can be is a prayer that reaches out from the heart. “…and the Word was made flesh.”
To pray, voicing our concern for the most vulnerable is a beautiful part of Christmas love. To thank those who do the work that we cannot do is also a gift of Christmas love. To be willing to grow and change from narrow blinding attitudes is Christmas love.
In our thoughts we traveled around the world these past few months listening, coming to know our suffering world family just a bit more. And when we cried injustice being done to black and brown people, the other side of the world cried out too with the same pain! We were not alone. Our world has gotten smaller during these 9 plus months; we have heard some of their cry too. A world suffering injustice is becoming more exposed. We are not the same as we once were. Here we could multiply our experiences a hundred times over. When we allow our hearts to be touched, we are driven to do what we can, Christmas comes to life in our flesh: We hear this in John’s Gospel:
In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….All things came to be through God, and without God, nothing came to be….
Yes, a people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
With God’s help, we are those people now! We see pieces of that light sparkle in darkness as we look back on this time with simple efforts of generous service and love.
Again from John,
To those who did accept the Light, received power to become children of God.
What came to be through God was life, and this life was the light of the human race. That is about Jesus; because of Jesus, it’s about us too.
The light shines in our darkness, and you too are a part of the light, Body of Christ!
…and the darkness has not overcome it! We help to make the day Christmas by God’s gift of grace! …the Word becomes flesh through our actions of love. …and God made the divine dwelling place to be among us!
God’s been leading our hearts, leading our minds in the midst of a journey of darkness and light. When you receive Communion this Christmas Season, you hear proclaimed, “The Body of Christ” That proclamation is you! And you will say, “Amen!”
May our faith lead us to celebrate a Christmas like no other! A Merry Christmas to this grand Body of Christ!