The five year old nephew of the bride was chosen to be in charge of carrying the rings down the aisle. At the wedding rehearsal he was unusually unruly. He kept leaping out at people, baring his teeth at and then chasing the flower girls. He growled and snarled as he practiced going down the aisle. He brandished the pillow like a pistol. Finally his mother pulled him aside and demanded to know why he was behaving so badly.
“But Mom,” he explained, “I have to act fierce — I’m the ‘Ring Bear.’”
Like so many of us that little boy misunderstood just what role he was supposed to play. He thought he was called to be big, imposing, fearsome, large and in charge. He thought he was to BE the “star of the show.” He thought the spotlight was his. (Leonard Sweet, www.Sermons.com).
Christmas celebration has been part of our society. It has been be a Christian celebration. Christ’s birth is the centre of this celebration. There is, however, a tension in our society about this celebration now. Many people, including Catholics and Christians, do not want to say “Merry Christmas” anymore. Last week I received a homemade Christmas card from a parishioner. In the card, to my surprise, the greeting was, “Happy Holiday to you Fr. John!” Many people want to celebrate Christmas and enjoy having Christmas break, but they do not want to acknowledge the main Character of this celebration, Jesus Christ. He is the Star of the Show.
As we are preparing to celebrate Christmas, the Church again presents to us the star of the season. He is the main character of our Christmas celebration. The prophet Isaiah talks about him as the anointed of the Lord in the first reading. The Holy Spirit is upon him. He comes to bring glad tidings to the poor, liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners, healing to the broken-hearted. He encouraged people to look forward to the new life that will come. "
In his letter to the church at Thessalonians, St. Paul encourages his readers, "Brothers and Sisters, rejoice always." The reason for rejoicing because Jesus is coming! We would not mind having more joy in our lives. The trouble is where to find it on a consistent basis. People are looking for joy in different places and activities, in the movie theatres, at the malls, in the park, out on the beach, out in the lake fishing, or food, beers, wines, drugs and sex . . . Not many people are looking for joy in relationship with Christ. Actually it is not money, power, "success", prestige, food, wine, beers drugs, sex or having everything our hearts desire that give us joy, but the simple fact that we know who we are, and what our mission is. That is a joy. And we don’t know who we really are until we know what our mission is.
The Gospel tells us that a man named John was sent from God. John knew who he was. When the people came to ask him who he is, they thought that John might be the Messiah. But John said, "No, I am not the Messiah." “I am not Elijah!” “I am not a prophet either." "I am the voice of one crying out in the desert; make straight the way of the Lord. I baptize with water, but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie."
John the Baptist knows himself because he knows his mission. He comes to testify to the light that all may believe through him. He does not seek attention to himself. For all the notice and attention he attracts, we witness a man free of pretensions. John considers himself blessed because he is preparing the way for Christ, the One who is to come, whose sandals he is unworthy to untie. He put no show of importance and claims no status or privilege. He testified to the light so that people may believe in Jesus through him. God also has a purpose and plan for every one of us. This gives each of us a reason for living, a task to perform. We are not here to dream, to drift, and to play. There is a mission for each of us to complete. And we are here to accomplish that mission. To accomplish that mission we will find true joy. In order for us to know who we are, and what our mission is, like John the Baptist, we also need to know who Jesus is and, to recognize Him among the people. When we recognize Jesus, we testify and confess that Jesus is the Lord, the Saviour and the Light of the world, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And that is our mission.
We decorate our houses with Christmas lights. Our city is showered with Christmas lights. But these are not just decorations to make our houses and our city to look nice. They are signs and symbols we set up to remind ourselves and others that Christmas is the time that the Light of Christ is shining. And each of us can also be the Christmas Light to our city, to our neighbours, to our families, and to our friends. Each of us can be a joy to others. We cannot be good without Christ; our society cannot be a good society without Christ. Faith and Hope in Jesus Christ’s second coming motivate people to be good and loving people.
Some years ago a garbage collector in Dallas was honoured by the people along his route. Seventeen residents wrote to Public Works Director, praising 'the warm, friendly smile and courteous service" of George Cummings, the garbage man. They said, "We on this route know him as a sincere Christian, a patriotic citizen and a real friend." They recalled how Cummings helped buy flowers when someone in the neighbourhood died, how he found a watch and contacted everybody on his route to find the owner, how he would check when he found items in the trash he felt might have been thrown away by mistake. The Director of Public Works sent the letter to Cummings with this note: "It is our belief people achieve stature in all walks of life, regardless of position or responsibility. Your performance has given real meaning to this belief."
John the Baptist and George Cummings lived a good life, dedicated to their jobs. People love them. They testify to the Light. Like John the Baptist, like George Cummings, we will give our best to the jobs we have whatever they are. In that way we are also giving testimony to the Light.