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  • Fr. Satish Joseph

God in Our Hands - A Christmas Reflection

There is a story of a father and a son who collected rare works of art. Later, the son went to War and lost his life trying the save the life of another soldier. The father was crestfallen. Just before Christmas that year, the young soldier whose life the son saved, came to the door and presented to the grieving man a portrait of his son that he had painted. The man kept the portrait on his mantel and often admired its realism. When he died, an auction was held for all the rare works of art and among them was the portrait of the son by an unknown artist. At the auction, everybody’s eyes were on the rare paintings but there were no takers for the portrait of the son. The family gardener had fond memories of the son and he was the only one to bid ten dollars for the son’s portrait. That was all he could afford. At once the auctioneer announced that the auction was over. He told the puzzled gathering that there was a secret stipulation in the old man’s will. “The son! The son!” the auctioneer cried out, “Whoever gets the son takes everything.”

There is yet another story of yet another Son! This is the story of an infant in the manger, Jesus, who is the Savior of the world. It’s is the Christmas story! In this story too, the punchline is the same: “The Son! The Son! Whoever takes the Son, gets everything!”

This Christmas, what does it mean, “Whoever takes the Son gets everything?”

1. God in Our Hands. One of the practices I have as pastor to visit babies in the parishes on the day of its birth. If the parents invite me, I go and bless the baby with holy water and consecrate the baby to God. After all, any baby is not only born into the family but also into the Church. I was at the hospital just the other day and I held this day-old baby. Her eyes were still closed. She was totally helpless, totally vulnerable. Her fingers were as tiny as they can be. And she gripped my little finger within her tiny palm. At this moment this baby was totally in my hands. This is precisely is how God approached humanity at Christmas. At Christmas, God placed Him, through whom everything was created into human hands, as a tiny, newborn baby. God came as a baby because God wanted to approach humanity in the most unthreatening, simple, humble, tender, honest, and loving way as possible. Paradoxically though, Christmas is the realization that even as God places the baby Jesus into our hands, in reality, it is God who holds us in God’s heart. As God places God’s little child into our hands, today let us place ourselves into God’s hands with the same humility, the same tenderness, the same honesty, and the same love. Until that happens, it is not Christmas. For you see, “Whoever gets the son, takes everything!”

2. Christmas Transformation. This has been a rough year for us here in Dayton. The tornadoes in June, the gun-violence that took 9 innocent lives, numerous fatal accidents that hit too close to home, numerous deaths by drug overdose – these have dampened our spirits. To add to it, the political mood in the nation, the racial tensions in society, the polarization in the Church, and the hopelessness among immigrants and refugees makes life even rougher for many of us. Is there something we can do? Sure, that precisely is the Christmas story. The name Jesus means, “God saves!” Here is something we easily forget during Christmas – that Jesus came to save; that Jesus came to transform us and our world! Jesus came so that we might turn away from our unjust, violent, hate-filled, oppressive, divisive, and self-destructive ways. We have experienced up close in Dayton what this kind of a world looks like. Rather, one heart at a time, one life at time, in gentleness, in compassion, in peace, in humility, unfathomable love, in giving to each person their God given dignity, Jesus gave new meaning to human existence. It is only Christmas, if we give into Jesus. It is only Christmas if we surrender to God’s vision for the world and humanity. It is only Christmas if there is love! It is only Christmas if we take the Son! For you see, “Whoever takes the Son, gets everything!’

3. Jesus, the Smile of God. Each year at Christmas, employees at the Vatican gather with the Pope. At this year’s gathering, Pope Francis used the example of a smile of a newborn baby to address them. He spoke about how the smile of a new born baby prompts us to smile back as it evokes in us “a simple, naïve emotion.” And then he said, "Jesus is the smile of God. In Jesus, we feel God smiling at us, at all the world's poor, at all those who await salvation, who hope for a more fraternal world, where there is no more war and violence, where every man and woman can live in dignity as a son and daughter of God." There is a child smiling at us today. This is no ordinary child. This is the child Jesus, the Son of God! Let us allow him to disarm us. Let us allow him to break through our defenses. Let us allow him to transform us. Let us smile back at the child. For you see, “whoever takes the Son, gets everything!”

- Fr. Satish Joseph

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