As I write this, Christmas is a few days away. As you’re reading this, we will be celebrating fully as a Church the Christmas season.
As I sit by my Christmas tree whose branches hang a little lower than they did at the onset of Advent, instead of the carol Silent Night, for some reason the melody of a ’70s pop song keeps playing in my head: “The things we do for love.”
I have learned that the oddest things can draw me to Christ, so I’m following this rabbit hole. These words resonate with me as I am in the throes of wrapping endless presents, making sure all eight children have somewhat of an equal amount bestowed upon them, checking my list and helping others shop as well.
I’m readying the house for the older ones who will be coming home for Christmas. There is food to prepare, school to finish, traditions to uphold and everyone’s emotions to balance. And, last but not least, making the birth of Christ manifest in our hearts – preparing the way. The things we do for love.
If you are like me, you can feel the imbalance at times, the recognition that the focus has become too much on the what and not enough on the Who. Our Lord is gentle as He guides us back to the stable where we sit and adore the Lord.
Stay with me here. I think I’m on a roll, for I can think of lots of Christmas symbols that follow this lyrical theme. Take this Christmas tree that illuminates my living room. It once stood proudly in a forest amid other beautiful trees for many years.
Not that it chose this life as it has no free will, but its life was (literally) cut short so that our family could hang ornaments and draw closer to the festive season through this tradition. In my very simplistic way, I say “thank you” to this tree for its gift of love for my family.
The 10 stockings hung remind me of the sacrifice of St. Nicholas and how he saw a need and filled it selflessly and lovingly. May I always choose to do the same.
The wind and chill outside, though not tangible symbols, draw me back into my St. Andrew novena. Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the son of man was born … at midnight in Bethlehem in piercing cold. The things we do for love.
Thank you, dear Mama Mary, for your “yes,” for your sacrifice in bringing baby Jesus into this world. And, of course, the creche nestled under my tree. The very manger and stable, so humble and yet everything all of humanity needed to witness, beckoning us to leave everything and travel like the shepherds, like the Magi, and worship the Lord.
While we are still celebrating Christmas with presents and family and friends gathering together, I think it helpful to look upon each person’s gifts and see what they are doing for love: Grandma’s baking, a secret colored picture from a student or daughter, our priests and deacons at full speed from sunup to sundown. The things they do for love.
For what is love? Love is willing the good for the other with no gain for yourself. It is a selfless gesture made countless times throughout our days by us and for us. But where there is love, there is God because He is love.
So perhaps within the messy and beautiful celebratory season we are sharing as a Church, we take time to look for Jesus made manifest through these little and big acts of love.
This article first appeared at The Catholic Times.