I ran into a friend earlier today at the store while getting some things for dinner and for the house. He stopped to talk to my wife and I as we were moving thorugh the freezer section. We talked about his plans for the next few weeks. He is travelling down south to a place he owns in a warm climate. He'll be gone for a few weeks. He has to decide if he's going to keep the place or sell it. It is a good time to get away, right after Christmas. He said he'll spend Christmas with the family then fly down. Then he looked at me. I guess I reminded him of her. We spent some time together before she passed. Tears came to both of our eyes. He didn't want to talk about it, I didn't want to bring it up. We hugged. We talked anyway. It's the first Christmas since she went on to the next life.
I hope this Christmas for him will be one in which he finds how to deal with the sorrow and finds comfort. The Gospel reading for the Night Mass tomorrow talks of how Joseph and Mary had to journey to a place with many memories. He had to return to the land of his family to be counted in the census. Like my friend, he had to go back. Decisions had to be made. Worries sorted through. As they journeyed together conversations had to be had. Christmas Eve was a time of hardship. A time of fear. No money, no place to stay at an inn, a baby on the way.
Then the angels came to the Shepherds in the field. They proclaimed the good news! “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” I think often we forget how much fear was involved the night before Christmas. So many strange things happening. Life was going on though. Christ, the king of the universe, was being born into the world. The greatest event in all of human history, the salvation and restoration of mankind to a right relationship with God, began in the still and darkness of night. It began with a journey. Both for Mary and Joseph, but also for all those who came to see Christ. They had decisions to make. Shepherd or wise man, both had to go on a journey looking for answers.
Just like my dear friend who is flying out to make decisions, what they all have in common is they are looking for answers. You and I, we are looking for answers too. Truly though the answer lies in one man, Jesus Christ. He is the full revelation of God. Everything we need to know about mankind, everything we need to know about God, everything we need to know about life... all of it lies in this God man, born in the darkness of night. Shrouded in mystery. Placed in a manger. The Bread of Life. The Son of Man. Emmanuel. God with us.
Tomorrow as we begin our Christmas season anew, let us begin to search earnestly for answers. Don't let Christmas get away from you. Too many times we get so caught up in the presents, in the food, in the atmosphere, that we don't spend time in prayer.. time with Christ. We too have a journey to make, we just don't know when the final flight will occur. Christ is being born into our world in the past, present and future. What does that mean to us? What do we do about it? There can be a lot of fear. A lot of doubt. A lot of questions. We know though, that a wise man once said, "We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." Wise men still seek him, that's where the answers are.
His servant and yours,