For a child, the anticipation of Christmas is a time of excitement and joy as they count down the days for the up coming feast. All of this excitement slows down to a quiet whisper as the child experiences the ‘not yet’ moment. Getting up early on Christmas morning and tiptoeing to the front room to see the Christmas tree which outstretches its arms in a protective gesture of the many gifts waiting to make a child’s delight.
All of these sights and sounds of Christmas are not for everyone. Our world still hungers for peace and a sense of belonging. Our Lord, like many people today, experienced being a refugee in the land of Egypt. Climate change, political unrest and wars have forced people to flee their country of origin –becoming refugees and migrants as they journey towards an uncertain future.
On the night Our Lord was born, angles came to bring news of great joys to shepherds tending their sheep in the dark of the night. Their message was about the arrival of the Messiah, the one who is to lead the people of Israel through the troubled times they were experiencing. In our modern world we need to recognize this announced saviour who comes to save and liberate. The role of a true leader is to gather people not only in good times but also in times of darkness, uncertainty, and trials. These are individuals, who do not lose they focus in times of confusion but are able to lead with conviction. For these leaders the needs of the people come first. Our Lord is such a leader.
The Lord tells us over and over again that he will not abandon us in our time of need. In Scripture the words, “BE Not Afraid” is re-stated many times. How is the Lord present today? He makes his presence felt through the disciples he sends to give witness of his love and concern. I can see this in the people who are struggling with either crushing heat during the summer or the bitter cold being experienced by Canadians in the western part of the country. Although the situation can seem dire, the Spirit of the Lord continues to inspire people, ordinary people, who reach out to those in need in bringing hope in times of darkness. This year, more than ever, we are all called to be pilgrims of hope in communion with one another. May the star of Bethlehem be your guide to the Christ Child this night and always giving you strength to be authentic witnesses to the Gospels we live.
Fr. Robert Laroche, OMI
Pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish, Ottawa