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Monday, December 24, 2012

Reflections Under The Christmas Tree

I just came back from the Christmas' Eve Mass, which I love because I know all the songs and I can sing along! It was the children's mass, some of them sang and there were many babies dressed just like dolls...so cute! I've felt Jesus' love and I've prayed for the well being of my loved ones, knowing that he will take care of all human beings.


Did Jesus’ followers feel the love emanating from his person? Could he heal the sick through the power of his love? Many times in the Gospels Jesus says to those who are healed that their faith brought them back to health. Their sudden recovery, I believe, was not a reward to their faith, but its natural outcome. According to the evangelists, Jesus “was not able to perform any mighty deeds” in his hometown, because the people did not believe in him. He was unable to heal unless a wave of complete trust flowed between him and the seeker. Only those who went to him in desperation and certitude at the same time were healed, out of mutual love.
Jesus often speaks about the heart: Perhaps he could create feelings of love and compassion so strong that he could literally rearrange the physical matter. I often have the feeling that he “rearranges” my thoughts, my behavior and even the events that take place in my life. For example, considering how irresponsibly my husband and I have led our lives, it’s a miracle we still have a roof above our heads. In a certain sense we lived as Jesus preached, not worrying about tomorrow. I couldn't resist the appeal of an adventurous life with a man who pushed me over the edge, When I fell for my husband my friends asked me why I had ended an apparently perfect marriage to run to America with a difficult man, facing an uncertain future. My parents just couldn’t get over it. Well, I did it out of boredom. I had come to believe, since it had happened in all my relationships, that I couldn’t last with any man because I would invariably get bored sooner or later. I wasn’t happy about this, for I wanted true love and a child. I had a feeling that he was crazy enough to keep me interested, so I decided to leave everything behind.                                                                                          
We bought two plane tickets to New York, via Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia. When we reached Dubrovnik, my future husband, pale as a ghost, got up from his plane seat and said to me:
“If you love me, you’ll get off this plane with me right now.”
He had been to America before, but always by boat. The mere idea of flying terrified him, however he thought he would give it a try. I said “Sure!” and followed him right on to the Yugoslavian land. Dubrovnik is a fascinating town on the Adriatic sea and we ended up having a wonderful time, giving very little thought to the fact that our resources were dissolving like mist in the sun.
Officially, we kept looking for a ship that would take us to America. After a while we heard that such a ship would leave from Hamburg, Germany. We happily boarded a train and reached Hamburg, only to find out that we had to go to England instead, and take the Queen Elizabeth to New York. Now, the Queen Elizabeth is a very expensive way of crossing the ocean. When finally reached Miami, our final destination, we were completely broke! 
 
According to Jesus, we don’t need to store treasures: God will provide for us. To the rich man who asked him how to gain eternal life, Jesus answered that he should give all his possessions to the poor and follow him. When the man left, Jesus turned to his disciples and said:
“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter  the kingdom of God.”
Upon hearing this statement the apostles were scandalized. The Jews, maybe on the basis of a superficial reading of Deuteronomy, assumed that wealth was a sign of Yahweh’s favor, but Jesus turned this assumption on its head.   
But what does the establishment has to make of this today? Jesus didn’t give precise rules about money. He never asked his disciples to give up their possessions, like he did with the hypocritical rich man. The apostles had to leave behind their homes and follow him, although family and property carried for ancient Jews religious and cultural significance. To other disciples Jesus demanded only support and hospitality, so it seems that his attitude towards money was one of relegating it where it belonged, that is at the bottom of the scale of human values. If achieving wealth absorbs all our energy, then money is evil.

But we all agree that a Christmas without money is a sad Christmas. Let's not obsess over this incongruence, let's take the birth of Jesus also as a celebration of the abundant life He promised us. And now...you will  excuse me if I stop writing. I'm going to have a wonderful Italian dinner and open all those colorful packages that are sitting under the Christmas' tree. But at midnight, we won't forget to put the Baby Jesus in the manger.                                             

1 comment:

Manny said...

What a great story! Life is amazing.