As we prepare to officially and ritually commemorate the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth, I offer a brief reflection. I will return after Epiphany with some longer reflections about contemporary faith and life…..
Last week, at my local train station, a very down-and-out looking fellow with a worn-out looking old dog was begging for money: sitting on the floor holding a tin cup. I had just bought a magazine for my wife and had the change, a bunch of coins, in my pocket.
As I passed the fellow, I quickly dropped the coins in his cup. He muttered something but I didn’t understand what he said. Behind me an older lady did the same as I: dropped a few coins in the tin cup.
Rushing to catch the train we both ended up standing next to each other on the platform. “I always give them something at Christmastime,” she said. “Yes,” I replied with a chuckle, “Do unto others…” Then we both boarded the train and continued on our separate journeys.
Sitting in the train, as it moved across the city and into the countryside, I started reflecting about Jesus; and about how easy it was for me to drop coins into the beggar’s tin cup. I didn’t even have to look into his eyes.
In the Gospels the devotion of Jesus to the men and women around him was something much more than mere benevolence: more than simply wishing them well or being eager to do things for them. Much more than simply dropping coins into their tin cups.
Jesus’ devotion was an expression of sympathetic identity with people: in their troubles and sufferings, as well as in their joys. Their life became his life.
To say that Jesus was also Son of God, means that God indeed is one with us in our daily life, with its joys and sorrows and its certitudes and uncertainties. Divine love is not essentially benevolence. It is a sympathetic sharing in life. Emmanuel – God-with-us.
If I truly believe that God walks and lives with me – as well as with the beggar at the train station – I need to move beyond kindly dropping coins into tin cups……And that is not so easy.
My very best wishes for Christmas
And may the new year 2015 be full of life and grace for all of us