There is a hospital in Palm Springs, California for children with disabilities. Celebrities sometimes drop by to visit. One Christmas Frank Sinatra donated a carefully hand-crafted three-foot-tall Santa, made completely out of solid milk chocolate. Santa weighed 75 pounds and was not only a work of art, it was a year’s supply of cavities for the children in the hospital. The chocolate Santa was put on display in the cafeteria.
But before any of the children could begin to chip away and enjoy eating their chocolate Santa, the hospital administrator ruled that all that chocolate would be bad for the children to eat. So the chocolate Santa just stood there. He was admired and longed for, but uneaten. Except when you looked closely at Santa’s fat tummy. You could see a small blemish. There were some tiny teeth marks. One little child in the hospital had come over and had taken a bite.
Over two billion people around the world celebrated Christmas yesterday. Presents were exchanged. Greetings were extended. Carols were sung. Of those two billion people, perhaps 10 or 15 percent made their way to a church to pay homage to the Christ Child. An even smaller number will take the Christmas message into their hearts and lives.
Here in our world, our cities, our churches and our homes we have the presence of God. We have the assurance from God of an inner peace and joy that toys, clothes and gift cards can never bring. We can experience not only Christ’s birth, but our own rebirth as well — as new persons, as Christmas persons. But we must “take and eat” as Jesus instructed us at the Last Supper.
God is right here in our midst this day after Christmas. Why do we stand at a distance and just look at Jesus the way we look at Christmas decorations? Why are we like the children at the hospital who only stood at a distance and only looked at a delicious, chocolate Santa?
We need to do what the one child did, take a bite of the chocolate Santa. Jesus gives us himself in the Eucharist. We need to say with St. Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
This Christmas you and I have the opportunity to feast on Jesus in our hearts.