Posted 12/23/09 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
Too often during the rush of the holiday season, people tend to forget the real reason that the Christmas season is celebrated. We get so caught up in buying presents, going to parties, and dashing around that we lose sight that Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus.
A few years ago, I received an email that I thought was an appropriate reminder that while we may enjoy all of the festivities of the holiday season, we shouldn’t forget the real reason we celebrate Christmas.
The Day Jesus Came For A Visit
One Christmas night, Our Lord came down into a modern city to see what people were doing. Everyone was celebrating “Happy Holidays!” Christ met a policeman directing traffic and asked: “What does ‘Happy Holidays’ mean?”
The policeman eyed Him suspiciously. “Where are you from?”
“Bethlehem,” Our Lord repeated.
“Oh … Don’t you know it’s a holiday for kids?”
“What is the origin of the holiday?” Our Lord asked.
“Look, you ask too many questions. Can’t you see I’m busy?”
Next, Christ passed by a restaurant advertising “Christmas Party - $50.00.” Ladies and gentlemen in elegant attire were entering. He stepped inside. Nice tables covered with white linen and lighted Christmas candles were arranged in rows. A woman, seeing Our Lord, complained loudly: “You let beggars in here?!” The waiter rushed over to Him. “What are you doing in here?” he demanded. “Go beg on the street!” Christ studied the young man. “If you only knew what I am ‘begging’ for…,” He started to reply, but He was shoved out as the woman playing the piano sang, “Peace on earth and mercy mild.”
Outside, Christ allowed Himself to be swept along by the throng that flowed like a river between stores. He saw toys everywhere, but rarely a Nativity scene. He then found Himself near a large school playground. Above the gate was a sign: “Christmas Party for Children.” Our Lord went in. There were hundreds of children inside, receiving toys. As they noisily ran and tumbled, important looking women hurried about. Neither a Nativity scene nor a crucifix could be seen. Nobody mentioned the Child Jesus. As Christ stood there, a feeling of isolation grew in His heart. He felt like a trespasser. Finally, He approached a young boy whose arms overflowed with toys. “Do you love the Child Jesus who gave you so many nice toys?” Our Lord asked the little boy.
The boy stared at Him, puzzled: “What Child Jesus?”
“Don’t you know Him?”
The headmaster rushed over. “What did this man say to you?” she frantically asked the boy. Learning what Our Lord had asked and whose Name He had dared mention, her eyes glared at Our Lord and she snarled, “You need to leave - now!” Christ left and again walked through the streets, passing innumerable places where His creatures celebrated Christmas without knowing why.
Weary, He came to a neglected suburb. A building with tiny lights caught His eye. Approaching one of the windows, He saw His own image displayed on the wall. His eyes brightened when He noticed a simple but attractively arranged crèche. Just then, the door opened and a boy came out. The boy stopped abruptly at the sight of the man shivering in the darkness. Icy gusts blew around them. “Sir, you could freeze out here! You need to get out of the cold.”
“I am quite cold,” answered Our Lord.
“Come in, then. We have a good fire going.”
Our Lord entered. Near the fireplace, children gathered around a young priest. As the fire crackled, the priest told the children about the infinite grandeur and glory hidden within the little figure of the Child Jesus. He paused the moment Our Lord entered the room. “Come in! You look cold! Please, warm yourself here.”
The children promptly offered the newcomer a place close to the fire.
“Have you had anything to eat? Joseph, go ask your mother to prepare something hot for this gentleman.”
Christ’s gaze rested on them, one by one, as if He were memorizing every little face. Above all, He gazed at the young priest. “Are you alone, my friend?” asked the priest kindly.
All eyes turned curiously on the Stranger, waiting.
Christ did not speak. Very slowly, regally, Jesus’ hand moved. He extended it over their heads, as if reaching beyond the humble cottages of that poor suburb, and encompassing the city whose miseries He had witnessed, he exclaimed, “Misereor super turbas!” (I have pity on these people!). Then, slowly, before their astonished eyes, He disappeared.
“It was He!” cried one of the boys.
The priest nodded solemnly. “Yes, it was.”