December 18th, 2011 16:32 EST
Relationships at Christmas Time
Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind. Mary Ellen Chase
The shepherds were greeted by the angels singing in chorus - Peace on earth to mem of goodwill. Rejoice!
In the voluminous book (five volumes of over 4000 pages), The Poem Of the Man-God by Maria Valtorta, Jesus reveals to her his life on earth, giving her minute details. One such detail was his interaction with the shepherds who visited him in the stable. On hearing of the birth of Jesus the innocent folk rush to the manger to behold the baby who was to be the saviour of the world. At first they are frightened, not wanting to venture inside the stable. Then they catch a glimpse of Mary`s heavenly smile and they are no more timid. They even smile at the babe and Mary. So engrossed are they in the babe that the severe cold does not affect them. The sheep they had left behind are forgotten for the moment. Now they do not consider their presence as an intrusion into the family`s private time. They stay for long taking in the picture of the holy family.
In the second half of the first volume, the book narrates how Jesus goes looking for the shepherds who were the first to pay him homage on earth. After much searching Jesus finds them. And then he reveals himself to them. What joy! What unbounded joy they experience as they prostrate in adoration! They saw him as an infant; now he is a grown man. Happy over the encounter, Jesus gets talking to them. Issac, one of them is ill and Jesus heals him. They share their problems with him " their poverty, the hard life they lead and the oppression of the taskmasters. Jesus is pleased to know that they hold no grudge against those who do them wrong. Simple and forgiving, they take the hurdles of life in their stride. Impressed at their attitude to life, Jesus praises them and holds them up as examples to the apostles who accompanied him.
Can we win praise from Jesus at Christmas time and round the year? Let us find out how.
1) In some quarters there is a hate campaign against Christians. Will that stop us from reaching out to those who dislike us because we are Christians? Can we not meet them, greet them and share our joy with them? Perhaps, offer help in some concrete way?
2) When a neighbor is ill, can we not visit her and make inquiries, even if we are not on visiting terms?
3) Looking up one who is in hospital could cheer up the patient.
4) Someone in the block has lost a dear one. Could we not visit the family on a quiet evening just to assure them that we are there for them and they could count on us if they needed help?
5) We might not be able to help one who has lost his job, but we could pray for him.
6) Perhaps we have hurt somone at home. Begging forgiveness will do us no harm. On the contrary, we grow in stature in the eyes of the one we offended. We could try forgiving someone who has caused us pain. The shepherds did precisely that. Can we not follow their example? We could drain our hearts of hate and fill it with love.
7) A relation who is not on talking terms because of some misunderstanding, could be approached only to confirm that we bear no illwill. On this point, I recall a movie I watched for the second time " Home Alone. The young hero`s antics in keeping at bay burglars bent on breaking in, does make enjoyable viewing. But what touched me most was the child`s influence on an old man who would not speak to his son. The little hero persuades the old man to make another attempt at contacting his son. The old man finds the courage and the last scene shows the reunion of father and son.
8) We could demonstrate our love for someone who means much to us. The Gift of the Magi, the heart warming story of a young couple`s love made a big impact on me when I read it for the first time in school. The young woman sells her beautiful hair to buy a chain for her husband`s treasured watch. He sells his watch to buy her a set of combs for her lovely hair. Love and sacrifice are inseparable!
Year after year we will celebrate Christmas, but the Christmas spirit should not end with the season; instead it should abide with us through the year to make everyday a Christmas day, when Jesus is born in our hearts. When that happens we can hear the angels sing: Peace on earth to men of goodwill. Glory to God!
Archbishop Oscar Romero rightly summed up the Spirit of Christmas when he said: We must not see the Child Jesus only in the pretty figures of our Christmas cribs and children`s plays. We must seek him among the undernourished who have gone to bed tonight without eating.