Archive for December, 2020

Pierced Hearts 12-27-20

Saturday, December 26th, 2020

He was the light of their lives – but that light darkened for a time.
His addiction “pierced” the lives of his entire family. But with patience
and sacrifice, they got their son help and managed to heal the wound that
cut their family so deeply. Today him mom and dad are part of a group
of other parents who have gone through the same nightmare and offer
support and counsel to families living through it now. Because of them,
many hearts are “revealed”.
Some “piercings” are harder to heal: For three summers, she
volunteered for two weeks to serve as a counselor for a camp for city
children at risk. Then came the phone call that “pierced” their hearts.
The night before she was to come home, she and a group went out for
pizza. Two in the group were hurt but survived the crash, but their
daughter lost too much blood. Now her mom and dad and brother have
formed a foundation for the camp program in her name. Their daughter
and sister’s light continues to shine.

Every parent’s heart is “pierced” as they suffer with and for their
children: illnesses, disappointments, break-ups, and stumbles. The roads
our daughters and sons travel from infancy to childhood, from teen to
adulthood, can be hard to negotiate and treacherous – and Mom and
Dad’s hearts are “pierced” every step of the way. Parenthood requires
patience, wisdom and generosity that many first-time mothers and
fathers especially don’t believe they possess – but they discover over
time that their love makes them better moms and dads than they
imagined. They come to realize God’s grace in their Nazareth.
Today’s Feast of the Holy Family reminds us that being a family is
a journey of changes and challenges – what Simeon calls “piercings” in
today’s Gospel – and that it’s the love of our spouses and children and
brothers and sisters that enables us to negotiate and survive those
“piercings”, to learn from those challenges, to move on from those
difficult situations wiser and more loving. Our belonging to a family

means that every one of us – parent and child – reflects for one another

the selfless, limitless and unconditional love of Christ, both in good

times and bad. The Holy Family is a model for our own families as we

struggle together to adapt and change and cope with the many tensions
and crises that challenge the stability, peace and unity that are the joys of
being a family.

Christmas 2020 12-25-2020

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

It was time for the annual Nativity pageant put on by the children
of the church. The manger was located in front of the alter steps. Mary
was there in a blue mantel and Joseph in a cotton beard. The wise men
were there with a handful of shepherds, and of course, in the midst of
them all was the Christ Child, lying on the straw. The nativity story was
read by the pastor with carols sung at the appropriate places, and all
went like clockwork until it came time for the arrival of the angels—a
“heavenly host” of the children of the congregation dressed in white and
scattered throughout the pews with their parents.
At the right moment the angels were supposed to come forward
and gather around the manger to sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and
on earth peace, good will among men”, and that is just what they did—
except there were so many angels that there was a fair amount of
crowding and jockeying for position. One angel, about nine years old
who was smaller than most of the other angels, ended up so far out on
the fringes of things that not even by craning her neck and standing on tiptoe could she see what was going on. “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, good will among men,” they all sang on cue, and
then in the momentary pause that followed, the small girl electrified the
entire church by crying out in a voice shrill with irritation and frustration
and enormous sadness at having her view blocked, “Let Jesus show!”
The wise pastor decided to end the pageant right there. “Let Jesus
show!” the child-angel had cried out, and while the congregation sat in
stunned silence, the good father offered a quick final prayer and
blessing, and everybody filed out of church with those unforgettable
words ringing in their ears.
May the little angel’s cry be our prayer in the year ahead: “Let
Jesus show!” in our families and work places and schools; “Let Jesus
show!” in our compassion, forgiveness and joy. May we not “lose”
Jesus in the many demands on our time; may we not “hide” Jesus when
the difficult decision has to be made; may we not “pack” Jesus away
until next Christmas, but may the “Word made flesh” make his dwelling
place among us here, now and always filling every one of our days with his wisdom and grace. Let Jesus Show.

The Gift of “Long Walk” 12-20-2020

Saturday, December 19th, 2020

One Christmas, a boy in an African village gave his teacher an
exquisite seashell as a gift. He had walked many miles to find it, to a
special bay, the only place such shells could be found. The teacher was
quite moved by the boy’s gift: “What a beautiful shell. You must have
walked many miles for it. I am deeply grateful for your gift”, the teacher
said.
“Teacher”, the boy said, “long walk part of gift”
Often the most beautiful gifts we give are not the seashells, but the
“long walk” of forgiveness, empathy, love, and understanding.
Especially at this busy time of the year, we can be overcome with the
shopping, the mailing, the addressing, and the decorating. Remember
that “long walk” is as much a part of the love we give and receive as the
destination, that the best Christmas presents are those of the heart and
spirit.