On Christmas Eve, three months ago, none of us could have imagined the life we all would be living just three months later – Hunkered down because of the coronavirus.
Please join me in reflecting on a woman who visited a tourist town at Christmastime and stopped to see the cathedral. As she stared at the beautiful stained-glass windows, a feeling of peace washed over her. She hadn’t felt that way since childhood, and she had a deep yearning to attend church again.
Kneeling before the Christmas scene, she studied the figure of the Christ child whose arms were outstretched. She wished with all her heart that those arms were reaching out to her. She remembered Christmases of long ago when her family attended church together.
The Nativity scene then was lit with colored lights and pine boughs scented the church. Afterward friends invited her family to breakfast. They would return home from sharing fun and laughter, and then exchange gifts. They sipped hot chocolate and listened to bells toll Christmas joy throughout the town.
The peace, love and warmth now seemed far away. Christmas was lonely and cold. She hadn’t gone to church in many years because of her rebellion as a young woman. The pain and the bitterness of remembering seared her heart.
As tears fell, she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder. A kindly priest looked down at her. “Father, I’m so miserable,” she blurted. She told him the story of her rebellion and bitterness, her loneliness, and her fear of going back to church. He replied, “The church is for people like you who are still suffering. Jesus has already forgiven you.”
Those words rang in her head long after the priest had left her. She felt her bitterness and loneliness slipping away. She knew that the Christ child was with her and was always there for her.
Thanks to King Duncan for this story.
Please find the Christ child that you displayed in the manger just three months ago. As you are hunkered down at home, hold and look at the Christ child. Recall the wonderful Christmases you have had in your lifetime.
As with the woman in the cathedral, let any bitterness and loneliness that you feel slip away. Do know that the Christ child is with you.
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Fr. Med Laz