Saturday, December 24, 2016

Find a Child

By Jim Bayne

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light (Is 9:1)

Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord. (Lk 2:11)

The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age (Titus 2:11-12)

This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”  (Luke 2:12)

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
– Prayer of St. Francis
In the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent, John calls the people to Baptism and repentance.  He warns the people that the Messiah is coming and “He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Mt 3:11-12)

Wow!!  Sounds like the end times from Revelation (e.g. Rev 6:12-17).  Reminds me a bit of the song we learned in childhood: “You better watch out, you better not cry....” or the old Nat King Cole song: “Straighten up and fly right...”

We need to get our act together or we’re in trouble!!

But then John gets locked up and begins to hear stories about what Jesus is actually doing.  His actions don’t fit the scenario above.  So he sends out his disciples to ask Jesus “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” (Mt 11:3)

And what does he hear back: Jesus told them, “Go back and tell John what’s going on:
The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised,
the wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side. Is this what you were expecting?  Then count yourselves most blessed!”
 (Mt 11:4-6 - The Message)

God in the form of Jesus is clearly on the side of the “wretched of the earth.”  Right from his birth, there was no room for him in the inn.  He then becomes a refugee in Egypt. 

He became one of the outcasts and the lowly of the earth.  He was truly one of us.  To almost any trial you can imagine, Jesus can say “been there, done that.” 

His public life was devoted to serving the people listed in the above quote from Matthew 11. Jesus is the ultimate example of unconditional love;  an unconditional love available to every man, woman, and child on this earth.  The only way we will experience “unquenchable fire” is by refusing to accept the unconditional love offered by God by refusing to follow Jesus’ example.  God gave each of us a free will.  We choose heaven or hell by how we use that free will.

Today we celebrate the birth of the “great light” that has shown in our darkness and modeled the behavior that will keep us standing in the light.

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Jesus provided a model for us to follow.  Jesus is the “way-shower.”  In Matthew 25, he gives us some very specific things to do in order to reach heaven:  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ (Mt 25:35-36) Each time you do one of these things, you will experience a bit of the kingdom to come - heaven - in the here and now.

Many people will be reaching out to feed the hungry this weekend, but the hungry are there every weekend. If you can’t find a hungry person today, try again next week. The Lamb Center and SOME are always looking for people to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and welcome the stranger.  VITAS can give you an opportunity to visit the sick and dying. My KAIROS team and the Arlington Diocese Jail Ministry are always in need of a few good folks to visit those in prison.      

Many people get very depressed at this time of year.  We can reach out to those we know who are depressed and bring the love of Jesus to heal their wounded spirits. Sometimes a hug and a smile can work wonders.  Have that relative you can’t get along with over for Christmas dinner.

On this very special day as well as every day of the year, when we make room in the Inn of our heart for the least of these, we make room for Him.


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