God is always unpredictable. Rabbi Yehoshua was shocked to hear from the mouth of the prophet Elijah himself that the Messiah could be found amongst the leper colony at the gates of Rome. "How will I recognize him?" he asked bewildered.
"There he sits among the lepers whom you will find unwinding all of their bandages at the same time and then covering their sores with clean bandages. The Messiah is the only one who unwinds and rewinds his bandages one at a time, thinking, 'I want to be ready at a moment's notice if I am called'."
The Rabbi did travel all the way to Rome - "a long journey that seemed to take him only a few steps." He quickly spotted the suffering man who was untying and bandaging only one sore at a time.
Rabbi Yehoshua approached him and greeted him with the customary, "Peace be with you, my master and teacher." The leper looked knowingly at him and replied, "Peace be with you, son of Levi." The Rabbi then asked him, "When will the Master come?" "Today," answered piercingly the leper.
The Messiah comes every day. But Christmas day is a real special Today. Today the Messiah will come.
When He came in Bethlehem he surprised everyone. People expected him to come in power. He came in weakness. People expected him to come in riches. He came poor. People expected him to show off with a gigantic display of magnificence. He came hidden and basically unaware to everybody.
This should tell us something. Even today He will come in places that we normally do not expect him and in ways we cannot foresee. He will come perhaps - without the perhaps! - also in our homes. So it is important this Christmas season to keep our eyes and our hearts open. Psychology says, 'Let go'. Spirituality says, 'Wake up'. It is important this Christmas to recapture the youthful gift of wonder, to be in awe at what surrounds us!
One of the stories that best catches this kind of Christmas spirit speaks of Paul who was given a car from his brother as a Christmas present! When he came out of his office, he noticed this small boy, rather shabbily dressed, walking around the shiny new car, obviously admiring it.
When the lad found out that this car was a Christmas present from the brother, his only remark was "Boy, I wish..." and he hesitated. Paul thought he understood what this poor chap was thinking. He was going to wish he had a brother like that.
But what the lad said jolted him! "I wish," the boy went on, "that I could be a brother like that." You see Christmas is not about us, it is about the other. Jesus was not born for himself. He was born for others.
Paul felt like inviting his new friend for a ride in the new car. The boy obviously accepted. "Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?"
Paul again thought he understood. He was sure the boy just wanted to flaunt in front of his neighbors… But he was wrong again. Because when they were in front of the home, the boy stepped down from the car, went quickly into the house and brought out, on his arms, his little crippled brother.
"There she is, Buddy. His brother gave it to him for Christmas and it didn't cost him a cent. And some day I'm gonna give you one just like it and then you can go out on your own." That Christmas Eve, Paul learned what Jesus meant when he said: "It is more blessed to give…"
But the deep secret of this deep sharing lies only in our ability to remain set on Him, the protagonist of the story!
In the book The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, Brennan Manning, tells of an experience he had at an airport. It was just before Christmas when because of a severe snowstorm, everyone was stranded at the airport. Everyone looked so dismal. Except for one middle-aged black woman cradling a child in her arms and laughing.
Manning felt like asking her, "Would you mind telling me why you're so happy?" "Certainly!" she replied. "Christmas is coming and dat baby Jesus - He make me laugh."
Do you want to have a merry Christmas? Bring Jesus into all your activities. Talk to Him all day long. He will make you laugh!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.