A few weeks ago, some of my siblings surprised me. They arrived at the rectory with a tree, lights, and pizza. It was a gift meant to make the upstairs rectory look as nice as the rooms downstairs (which were already decorated for the parish parties). I had run out of time and energy to decorate my own room. After we dressed the tree, the family manger scene, the one I inherited when my parents got a new one, immediately took a prominent spot at my new tree’s base. This whole experience had a profound effect on me.
The day after my siblings left, I refilled the stand with water. The tree had clearly been thirsty. I was surprised that it took a whole pitcher of water to refill. When finished, I lay on the floor at the base of the tree just like I did as a kid. The strong perfume of evergreen mixed with the dust of the manger my dad created in his workshop more than 60 years ago. The scents and soft glow of the lights gave me a degree of nostalgic longing for the traditions the Mech family once celebrated.
As I lay there, I gazed at the figures long ago glued onto the thin plywood base by my Dad. The camel’s head has been glued and re-glued back onto the torso several times over the years. A few inches away from the camel, between Joseph and Mary, is a too-large baby Jesus that does not fit with the scale of the other figurines. I don’t know what happened to the original that went with the set, but if Mary had given birth to a baby that size, God becoming man wouldn’t be the only miracle we’d be celebrating today!
What do my ramblings have to do with your Christmas celebration? I believe this is a metaphor for all of us. Like my tree, I believe we are all thirsty (more than we even realize). We all have a spiritual thirst that will only be quenched if we follow the King of Kings. We’re always searching, trying to find something to make our lives happy and significant; too often filling them with useless objects and behaviors that will ultimately leave our hearts restless. What should we do about this? Like my camel’s head, we need to get “re-attached” to the body. I’m referring to the Body of Christ, the Church. While reminiscing on the floor of my tree, I was reminded that the traditions we celebrate in the Church every day are the real source of joy. The traditions we celebrate at Christmas don’t have to be boxed up and put away with the decorations. The comfort you received by coming to Christmas Mass will be here next week as well. Christ wants to have a personal relationship with all of us. Archbishop Vigneron states in his pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel: that this “entails making one’s relationship with Jesus and alignment with his will the central guiding principle of every aspect of life.” We here in our parish can assist with this. Like my oversized manger figure, Jesus looms large and is closer than we think. Our Lord is inviting all of us to see him and experience Him every day.
Maybe the Christmas Mass you enjoy this year will help you too reminisce about the Christmases past and long for the traditions you once celebrated. Pray about this. Come back next week, and the next and the next. Join our Bible studies and the Christian service projects we offer. Believe me, you will feel “re-attached” and that spiritual thirst that you are experiencing will be quenched.
God bless you!