Christmas 2019 has become a memory. The beautifully wrapped presents have all been opened. Bows and wrappings have been torn and thrown out, or collected to be used again next year. The Christmas ham and turkey, along with the cookies, have been consumed. School has begun and it’s back to work for the rest of us. The glow of the Christmas tree, though still beautiful, has become a bit common place. The merchandise in the stores is now geared for Valentine’s Day. The extraordinary Christmas season has now turned to something ordinary. Even liturgically, the priest now wears green and we find ourselves in “ordinary time.”
But is God’s grace ever ordinary? As I reflected on this Christmas season, I came across a prayer that Caryll Houselander wrote. She was born in 1901 and was a poet, writer and mystic. Her prayer begins, “Be born in us Incarnate love!” I could not help thinking that if we truly gave our hearts to Christ as a Christmas present, he would bestow upon us His grace upon grace. Grace to hear His whispers in the ordinary-ness of our lives. Grace to see his fingerprints in the hum-drum of work or school. Grace to experience the glory of God every day – not just on December 25!
Can you imagine what it would be like if every day was like that first Christmas? Immigrants and the homeless would find safe haven and shelter. In the midst of our common work, the song of the angels could be heard. We could turn to our neighbor and proclaim, “God became flesh! Yes, I saw Him today when….” In short, hope would be made visible.
Yet, we shouldn’t have to imagine it, because “from His fullness we have all received!” (Jn. 1:16) By our baptism we have become children of God. As His children, we wonder over the tiny sparks of grace that incarnate His word into our world.
Sparks of grace? Hmm … Perhaps estranged siblings or a parent and child finally, after many years, talking on the phone … A plant that never bloomed suddenly sending forth beautiful blossoms even though you changed nothing in its care …. A whispered prayer becoming reality …. Knowing and believing that the death of a loved one is not the end, and that all life has meaning. The list could go on and on.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes, “The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.” Isn’t this the awesome reality of what Christmas is all about? By the life and death of that boy born in a manger, our life perspective changes. He becomes our model in what being human is all about. We give Him our flesh and He gives us His humanity. We give Him our eyes and He gives us His vision. We give Him our minds and He gives us pure thought. We give Him our feet and He sets them on His path. We give him our hands and He folds them in His prayer. We give Him our hearts and He gives us His will to love.1
There is NOTHING ordinary about that!
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness