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The 12 days of Christmas are in full swing as we continue to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. We are celebrating with jubilee that most holy night when Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, was born among us. We are embracing the mystery of Jesus’ abiding presence with us—all the way to the end of time. We are glorying in the boundless joy that will be ours when we see Jesus face to face in the heavenly kingdom. How can news this good even begin to be celebrated in just one day!
In preparation for this grand feast of Christmas, we sang “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” This hymn invited us to wait in hope for the birth of the Savior.
Even more challenging is the timeless invitation to welcome him on his own terms as he comes. The people of the Old Testament longed for the coming of the Messiah, but when he came, they doubted him, despised him and even put him to death.
For some, Jesus did not measure up to their expectation of a “knight in shining armor” who single-handedly wiped out their enemies and created heaven on earth. For others it was a matter of jealousy toward this upstart preacher who challenged their religious authority and self-righteousness. For still others, it was fear that Jesus’ popularity might create revolution and cause political heads to roll. A common carpenter from the nondescript town of Nazareth simply did not pass muster.
Today we are at home with our God in the religious celebrations of our churches, where worship is clearly centered on God’s gracious presence. When we walk out of these sacred spaces, it becomes a little harder to stay focused.
We may not find God so easily in our homes, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our leisure. Maybe it is because God doesn’t wow us with instantaneous miracles or quick solutions to the “hand life deals us.” Maybe it’s because God expects us to respond to quite obviously imperfect people in a less-than-perfect world. Maybe it’s because we don’t take time to grow our relationship with God, outside of one hour a week. Maybe we are just bored because we fail to find anything new about God to excite and motivate us.
We, too, are not above doubting and even despising God because he doesn’t fulfill our expectations.
I suggest we live into the new year focused on the blessings that shout out God’s abiding presence among us. If we cannot find at least three to five blessings to thank God for as head-and- pillow connect each night, we simply missed the Messiah that day. Well, tomorrow will be better. We will be more focused, so as not to miss his passing by. Surely we will see him tomorrow, or die trying.
What if, in a couple of weeks, we double the number of blessings discovered? Who is to doubt that we will even find God in the most unexpected places! A whole year of thanking Jesus for his abiding presence with us might be the best New Year’s resolution we ever lived into.
Sister Paula Gohs, C.D.P., is a pastoral associate at St. John’s The Evangelist Catholic Church in Carrollton.