What do You see in me?

This year I will need a number of secular Christmas cards. You may smile at the oxymoron, but you know what I mean. I want a card that allows me to wish the recipient a Merry Christmas. Such a card would allow me to share my Spiritual celebration of the coming of Christ. Yet, at the same time, the card would not appear overwhelmingly religious to a non-believer. I searched the internet quite some time without finding a suitable card. 

I took a short break to glance through some religious Christmas cards. My eyes fell on a card depicting a snowy evergreen branch. The inscription quoted Meister Eckhart: “We are all meant to be mothers of God for God is always needing to be born.” The inside read: “May the celebration of God’s Birth inspire us to seek new ways of bringing God’s love to the world. Merry Christmas.” 

I smiled as I remembered this one high school student. Totally out of the blue, she had walked into science class one day exclaiming that she wished she could be Mary. That day, she didn’t like my answer. I had gently suggested that job had already been taken. She had to find the special place God had in mind specifically for her. I thought this young woman would enjoy the card.

Then, I started analyzing whether that young woman or any of us had what it takes to serve as a mother of God. My mind went to the Canticle of Mary where Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk 1:46-47). Mary had been specially blessed by God even before her conception. In addition, her words reveal a woman of remarkable depth of faith and courage. 

I remembered Elijah sleeping under that tree (1 Kgs 19: 1-8). He had done his best with the task God had assigned. Others wished him dead. Elijah had had enough of it all. My conclusion was that we were all more like Elijah than Mary. Figuratively speaking, some days that angel might have to kick us pretty hard to wake us up for the next task.

Like Elijah we begin projects with such high hopes. However, we can forget that God’s plans are accomplished in His time frame and to His full vision. Sometimes when things get rough we doubt. We get caught up in wondering Lord, why did You pick me for this? What do You see in me? With the latter question we have the correct idea, but the incorrect focus. 

Jesus’ Words were to love our neighbor as our self. Thus, our real focal point should be on what God sees in other people in our world. The truth of this is realized each time something that reminds us to live this way touches our heart deeply. Do you remember the song “Christmas Shoes”? The man is in the checkout line behind a ragged little boy who is counting change. The man moves past frustration to listen to the little boy. The child wants the shoes for his mom who is sick and dying. The man gives the boy the needed money. As the child runs away, the man says, “I knew I’d caught a glimpse of Heaven’s love as he thanked me and ran out. I knew that God had sent me that little boy to remind me what Christmas is all about.”

As the man in the song found, the simple key to bringing forth God’s love to the world is listening to others. Mary McDonald describes listening and responding in love to what we hear as the gift of love. Christmas encourages us to find new ways to share that gift of love. 

In her poem “Christ Has No Body” St. Theresa of Avila said, “Christ has no Body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours, yours are the eyes with which He looks compassion on this world.” With this understanding of each of us as part of God’s Body it is easier to imagine anyone serving to give birth to God, just as the boy in the song did, by enabling our neighbor to find God’s love within his/her heart. 

God’s love is infinite. So is the world’s need for that love. St. Theresa of Avila said, “This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted knowing that they hold future promises. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.” 

I finally found my secular Christmas card. It had the Helen Steiner Rice poem “A Christmas Message.” The inscription reads, “Christmas comes softly, silently, sweetly, wrapping its loveliness about the world. And, once again the most beautiful message on earth is repeated — peace on earth, good will toward men.” 

Anchor columnist Helen Flavin is a Catholic scientist, educator and writer and a member of St. Bernadette’s Parish in Fall River. biochemwz@hotmail.com

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