Life is tough. But Nuns are tougher. If you need helpful advice just Ask Sister Mary Martha.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Two Sizes Too Small
Does anyone know who won the Pistons/Celtics game? It was quite a game and very Christmas-y, what with the Celtics running around in their home greens. I didn't know who to root for, since I am a Pistons fan. But it is so wonderful to see Kevin Garnet, who has been languishing for 12 years in the frozen north and Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, who has spent his career slogging through the rain in Seattle, form the basis of such a great team. We'll see what happens when they have to start playing in the West.
The game went on too long for me to catch the end. We don't want Sister Mary Fiacre falling asleep in her chair so soundly that we can't get her into bed. I think she's a Celtics fan. Hard to tell.
Meanwhile, the Grinch has dropped by:
What does 25 Dec, a gaudy lighted pine tree, giving presents to others (not to Jesus), and lying to kids about a ficticious red-suited man (Rev 21:8) have to do with honoring our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as a mighty King in heaven?
Let's hope you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
Let's take your points one at a time.
Dec 25th. Here in the Catholic Church we are all about focusing. Jesus had a lot to say to us. He did a lot of things. He gave us examples of what to think, how to think about things, and how to behave. He talked about children, wives, husbands, sin, faith, taxes, work, strength, courage, wine, farming and dinner plans. While we don't have any problem with big blanket concepts like "God is Love", it doesn't really help us out much on a day to day basis.
So we've made a map, so to speak, of the life Jesus led and the things He did and said so we can focus our own lives more completely with the life of Christ day by day. You don't have to follow the map if you don't want to. You can wander off and find that great out of the way Jesus Bed and Breakfast. It's all good.
We picked Dec 25th because it is the day, literally, when the light starts coming back to the world. The days are shorter and shorter before Dec. 25th, and from Dec. 25th they grow longer and longer. We took the old pagan holiday that celebrated that same thing and attached Jesus to it. Bingo! The pagans got it.
I have to say, I'm kind of surprised that you don't get it. Those pagans thought the sun revolved around the earth and didn't know to wash their hands before performing surgery. They got it. The Light has come back.
Even Jesus spoke in parables. Parables are symbolic language. Speaking of symbols:
The gaudy lighted pine tree.
Pine (tree) is the operative word here. Evergreen. Always living. (Ring any bells yet?) Never dies. This is another symbol that used to be a pagan thing. We attached Jesus to it. They got it. They thought that cats were from the devil and could suck the oxygen out of your lungs and kill you while you slept, but they got the pine tree thing.
The lights, like the candles in church, are symbols of Christ (the Light of the World). Really cheery ones at that. It doesn't have to be gaudy. We have no control over individual taste. We wish we did.
Giving presents to people who are not Jesus.
Boy, this one shocks me. "Whatsoever you do the least of my brothers, this you do unto me." For one thing.
But here is where it all comes together, the lights and the tree that have reminded us to focus our attention on Dec. 25th. We are focusing on the fact that the Mighty King of Heaven was born in the lowliest of places. Ever ask yourself why?
A historical nugget: Shepherds were the lowliest of the low. Everyone would have understood, back then, that if shepherds were around, we were talking about the poorest and the dumbest.
They were the first people called to see Jesus. That is a message from God.
They brought gifts.
We are to see Jesus in each other and to love each other as He loved us. We give each other gifts on His Birthday.
It's not rocket science.
The Mighty King of Heaven was born in a dumpy dirty place with dirty stupid people as His first visitors. It's very important news. Very happy news. It's a birthday party.
Years ago I had a friend who said to me, "I've figured out why people get depressed when other people forget their birthdays."
"Do tell," I said.
"It's because when people forget your birthday it's like they're saying I don't care that you were born. Remembering someone's birthday is like saying, 'I'm glad you were born.'
We are remembering Jesus' birthday and saying, "We're glad You were born." And we're celebrating the way He asked us to celebrate Him, by seeing Him in each other.
And while there is some fiction to Santa, Santa is not fiction. Santa just had his named changed at Ellis Island like a lot of other people. Let's talk about him tomorrow.
I want to find out those game results.
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I have to say, dear Sister, that Cheetah (the poster to whom you reply) is not merely a Grinch, but apparently an incipient Jehovah's Witness as well.
The Yankees won.
The Pistons won. The game was tied with one tenth of a second to go, and one of the Celtics fowled one of the Pistons, and the Pistons won with a free throw. So I'm told, my sons watched it. You missed an exciting finish, Sister!
Here's one for the "War on Christmas" file. The following is taken from a letter to the Editor in our local Southern California newspaper. "The other day I got an e-mail from our middle school regarding the winter feast preparation. In it, this instruction was given: 'Please make sure napkins and plates do not have things like candy canes, etc., or look Christmasy, as the teachers want to be sensitive to everyone's beliefs.' "
Well, good luck finding anything in the stores these days that DOESN'T look "Christmasy." The retailers have been slapping candy canes and wreaths on everything since Halloween ended.
No, wait, that's not quite true. Yesterday I saw some Valentine's candy for sale. Maybe that's what the writer should bring to the school winter feast.
God bless us, every one!
I loved your post today, Sister. I work in a Catholic book store which apparently makes me a target for every Seventh Day Adventist/Jehovah Witness/fundamentalist wacko with a chip on their shoulder. I have been questioned about how we Catholics "invented Christmas". I gave an ok answer, but your's is better and I'll remember it for next time, because there will be a next time. Thanks.
Slam Dunk on the post...I feel better already...
well done Sister, can't wait till tomorrow to read on Santa
Good post, Sister! Yeah, the original poster is probably a Jehovah's Witness or from some other group with no link to history.
In our local newspaper there was a piece in the religion section by a Protestant about the damned practice of celebrating Christmas and about he never does it because it's so . . . so Papist! People ought to cling to their Protestant roots.
Sheesh! I thought they'd gotten over that ages ago back when the Puritans came over here, banned Christmas celebrations, and discovered that doing so was no fun at all.
(I'm glad I belong to the party Church.)
Sister, I'm not a Catholic but I enjoy reading you very much.
My mother-in-law is a JW and I can tell you the inquirer from today is not. They don't say things like "our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." It's all about Jehovah, man.
Forgetting someone's birthday is a terrible thing to do! You all saw what happened in "Sixteen Candles"!
....Pretty in Pink, however, is another story...
Excellent post, Sister!
My grocery store has one solid aisle both sides packed with valentine's candy, and just a few small scattered displays with Christmas things left. Anybody in my town who hasn't bought stocking candy yet is in big trouble.
I love your response, Sister, but I confess I got hung up on the ghastly retro photo. Reminds me of the James Lileks books -The Gallery of Regrettable Food and Gastroanomalies. Books worth taking a look at!
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