The truths of Christmas are like the ornaments on our Christmas trees. We can see them at a glance, in an overview or blur, or we can concentrate on them: separate, memory-laden ornaments or separate Christmas insights that may be new to us this year
Here are three such Christmas thoughts:
Joseph chose to adjust his life to fit his wife’s new journey. He didn’t say: ”Look, Mary, I am the man of the house. You are to be part of my life journey.” No, he became. He chose. He went to distant places both geographically and in his heart. Emmanuel unexpectedly became his companion on the journey of life. As with Joseph, God travels with us when we adjust our lives to the journey our loved one walks.
God , the divine guest, comes to live in our homes and in our hearts. Is our house a place of welcome for God? Pregnant Mary was initially unwelcomed by Joseph. God spoke to him in a dream and only then did Joseph say his yes. They, together, were unwelcomed in the inns of Bethlehem. No room in the inn. Good luck. We won’t even try to shoehorn you in. I repeat, is God welcome in our home? Surely we say God is with us at work, at school, in our deserts and foreign places. But is God wanted in our home? When other guests come, it clear to them that this is a home where faithful believers live? Is God’s presence apparent or are people dubious that God lives here with us?
Finally, God does not create us only to abandon us to make our life journeys alone. Many of the Christmas cards we receive bear silhouettes of Mary and Joseph, traveling alone to Bethlehem, and then Mary Joseph and Jesus fleeing to Egypt, traveling alone. The Magi are likewise pictured. But none of them could travel alone. Caravans or at least small groups, traveling together helped ward of wild beasts and bandits. Along the way, too, there were signs, dreams, stars that told them, one and all, to leave their comfort zones. In each case, as the travelers moved closer to their destination, valuable surprises awaited them. In each case, what met them on the way or as they reached their destination was not what they expected or wanted. They encountered their next step with God.
A prayer published by the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, is for all of us, since we are all on the journey of life, and underscores what Christmas could be for us this year:
God of the journey, be our traveling companion.
Guide us over terrain both pleasant and perilous.
Share our laughter when the sun shines.
Lead us to shelter when the storms come.
Over hills and through valleys, forests and deserts, bless us with steadfast hope.
For with you, the Holy Pilgrim, we are never alone.
May your Christmas joy be boundless.
~Joan Sobala, SSJ