Time to Get to Work
Some years ago a popular “after Christmas” card contained a verse composed by Howard Thurman, an American Baptist preacher and theologian. It was focused on what we are to do now—that Christmas is over. The card read:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When kings and princes are home,
When the Shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins.
To find the lost, to heal the broken,
To feed the hungry, to release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among us,
to make music in the heart.
For most of us this week as the Christmas Season begins to wind down and we head back to work and school, it can be easy to move on quickly from Christmas. But the words are a reminder of not only what Jesus came to do, but also what Jesus asks us to do. The words are also a reminder of our mission. It’s great to celebrate the birth of our Lord, but following Him must also be a way of life.
Two takeaways as we begin our new year to make this a real way of life are the role of the individual and the community.
Individually, we all have responsibilities and vocations. And as I said on Christmas in my homily, we need to be constantly looking if you will at the “tape.” Just as after a football game the coach and team go through the film to see what went right and what didn’t (in the case of that Vikings-Packers game there’s a LOT to look at on tape, but I digress…), we should be looking at ourselves and doing the same thing. How are we doing in our families, at our jobs? How are we evangelizing? Are we showing the faith in word and action? Are we taking opportunities to volunteer? Are we working on forgiving others and bearing wrongs patiently? How is our prayer life and Mass attendance? And even if we go to Mass, are we just “attending” or “fulfilling the obligation” or truly trying to make Mass a prayerful experience? Our journey to sainthood is a true marathon, and no matter what we are called to do, we need to be always striving to grow daily in holiness.
The good news though is we are a community. Odds are in recent weeks you’ve seen friends and family. Family is not just there to share a good meal with and open presents with. Family and friends are there to help us. And this is true for our larger Christian community as well. This means not being afraid to ask for help. I am blessed with so many amazing people on our staff and in our parish who work so hard and generously give of their time and talent, and because of the team effort so many great things happen at Saint Joe’s. In my own life I also have friends and family who give me counsel and help me in so many ways. I try to do the same for them too and help in any way I can. So remember, as we labor and get back to the work of proclaiming to the world who Jesus is through word and action, it’s so important to ask for help too when things in our life aren’t going right. Whether it’s spiritual advice, advice in parenting or in a marital situation, or financial advice or whatever it might be, we have to remember others are there to help us out. But so too, do we help one another out. As the Holy Father said on Christmas, don’t wait for the other person to make the first move to do something good, rather lets take the initiative to offer assistance to others, to volunteer and to help, and to serve the needs of both the larger community and our friends and family.
I hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas Season. But as we put away the decorations, let’s never forget that as Jesus came in the world to save us from our sins and to show us how much we are loved, all of us are called to help the world see the presence of God, something we can do when we truly live out our baptismal call to be a priest, prophet and king.
God’s blessings and Happy New Year! ~Fr. Paul
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