January 7, 2007


They were overjoyed at seeing the star. – Mt. 2: 10

Here’s a Christmas story with a punch:

“A soldier was on duty one Christmas morning during WW II. It had been his custom to go to church each Christmas with his family, but now, stationed in an outlying district of London, that was impossible. So with some of his soldier buddies, he walked down the road that led to the city as dawn was breaking. Along the way they came upon an old, gray, stone building over whose main door where carved the words, “Queen Ann’s Orphanage.” They decided to knock & see what kind of Christmas celebration was taking place inside.

In response to their knock, a matron came & explained that most of the parents of these particular children had been killed in the many bombings that had taken place in London . The soldiers went in just as the children were tumbling out of bed. There was no Christmas tree in the corner. There were no presents. The soldiers wandered around the room wishing the children “Merry Christmas,” & giving them whatever they had in their pockets: a stick of gum, a piece of candy, a nickel, a dime, a pencil, a pocketknife, a good luck charm.

Then the soldier who had gotten his buddies together noticed a little fellow alone in the corner. This little fellow looked a lot like his nephew back home, so he approached him & said, “And you, little guy, what do you want for Christmas?” The child replied, “Will you hold me?” With tears in his eyes, the soldier picked up the little boy & held him very close in his arms.”

When all has been said & done, the only gift that really matters to us humans is genuine love. The tragedy is that all too often we allow ourselves to become orphaned by the horrendous things other people can say or do to us, or by mistakenly thinking that such things as power, prestige or acclaim are more important.

On one of her campus lecture tours, someone asked the celebrated Catholic author Flannery O’Connor, “Do you feel that universities stifle writers?” She replied, “I feel that they don’t stifle enough writers.” Indeed, there are too many lifeless writers & lifeless preachers; there are too many lifeless business people & lifeless teachers; there are too many lifeless parents, etc.

God loves us so much that when He calls us into life, in His great goodness, He gives us two births: a birth that brings us into this world, & a birth that brings us into life. For those fortunate enough to appreciate the significance of Jesus’ birth, both of these types of birth are celebrated.

To realize that we are so beloved of God that He will stop at nothing to show it to us is to be humbled. It means that we are NOT orphans in the most profound sense possible. This is the true source of joy & self-worth, & it is something to prostrate ourselves & give Him homage about. What is even more awesome is the recognition that we do not merit it – God holds us closely in His arms warts & all. How can we NOT be changed by it all? AMEN!