I heard an interesting homily the other day. A story about Mother Teresa, as she was leaving New York, remarked she had just visited the poorest nation in the world. The Bishops there, thinking she was confused reminded her of America’s richness. And, in her inimitable style, she replied that America is indeed poor because in America we make our wants into our needs and then ignore our needs. Powerful statement.
As we approach Christmas with all the wish lists and shopping, take a moment to consider Mother Teresa’s wise words. Sure, this is a time for special gifts of those things we want, but are you giving your families and yourself what you actually need? It’s so easy to get caught up in our material culture and the consumerism that has commandeered our Holy Feast. For those of us who take this holy day seriously, it’s such a frustration. But if we’re going to counter it, we need to think seriously about the difference between our wants and our needs.
The things we truly we need, after our bodily needs of food, water, clothing and shelter are met are these: to feel loved, to find meaning and to have hope. And the three are certainly intertwined.
So, here are a few suggestions as we move through Advent. Let others know you love them with more than just a material gift. A phone call, a heartfelt compliment, encouragement, and attentive listening won’t bust your budget but can make a huge difference to those receiving them.
As you wrap your presents and send out your cards, pause and take a moment to say a special prayer for each recipient. Place them before the crèche and ask Jesus to bestow a special blessing on them. They may not even know you’re doing that, but God hears and will answer that prayer in whatever way He knows they most need it.
Take some time for yourself to rest and ponder the actual meaning of Christmas. Think of how different your life and this world would be had Jesus not come…or how different it would have been if He’d come only as the political messiah so many were looking for back then. None of us would have likely written the story as it unfolded. God truly surprises us with ways that are so unlike our own. Think of those simple things that made a big difference in your life.
We all look for spectacular events but looking in a dirty manger, not so much. But isn’t that often where God meets us…in our messy sins and fears and trials? Take some time. Ponder…
Wishing you and yours a beautiful and holy Christmas.
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